This is the genesis of all barbecued chicken, which is a dish that everybody loves. We’ve all been served a barbecued half-chicken dinner at a local fundraiser or a friend’s backyard BBQ, and with the friendly atmosphere and jovial company, it makes for a pretty decent meal. But a quick brine and homemade barbecue sauce will turn ordinary barbecue chicken into something really special. Your friends will inevitably beg you to make this bird again and again.

This fantastic chicken recipe from Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue will win over your family, your friends, and basically anyone who loves great barbecue.

Old-School Barbecued Chicken

Makes 2 to 4 servings


2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup ice water

1 frying chicken (4 to 5 pounds), cut in half
Barbecue Rub #67 (see recipe below)
Thick and Rich Barbecue Sauce (see recipe below)

To make the brine: Heat 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat until it’s about to simmer. Add the salt, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper. Mix well and cook until the salt and sugar have dissolved, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl or small pitcher and mix in the ice water. Refrigerate until very cold.

To make the chicken: Put the chicken halves in a gallon-sized plastic zip bag. Pour the brine over them. Squeeze out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Refrigerate for 3 hours, turning occasionally.

Prepare your cooker to cook indirectly at 250°F using medium cherry wood for smoke flavor.

Take the chicken out of the bag and rinse well. Dry thoroughly and sprinkle it lightly with the rub. Put the chicken in the cooker and cook for 3 hours. Brush it with the barbecue sauce and continue cooking until each half reaches an internal temperature of 160°F in the breast and 180°F in the thigh, about another 1 hour.

Transfer the chicken to a platter and tent loosely with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes. Serve the chicken halves with additional sauce on the side.

Barbecue Rub # 67

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

This one is a great all-around rub for the new barbecue cook because it’s good on just about everything.

1/2 cup Sugar in the Raw
1/2 cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coffee
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. The rub may be stored in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 6 months.

Thick and Rich Barbecue Sauce

Makes about 1 quart

This is a big, thick, red barbecue sauce made with fresh ingredients and a lot of love in your kitchen. Every barbecue cook I have ever known has a mother sauce they’ve been working on for years and this would be a great place to start on yours. You can skip the liquid smoke if you like, but I think it adds a nice layer to barbecue sauce.

1/4 cup butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (leave the seeds in if you like it hot)
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the celery seed and mix well. Cook for 1 minute. Add the ketchup, vinegar, honey, mustard, apple juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire, hot sauce, tomato paste, liquid smoke (if using), salt, and pepper. Mix well and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, mixing often, until thickened. Remove from the heat and serve or cool and store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.