My mom grew up in a very small town in Northern Pennsylvania. And apparently there was this guy named Rueben who was responsible for all the chicken grilling at local events. His famous marinade has graced our family’s chicken for as long as I can remember. I remember tasting it before my Mom would put the chicken in (and when raw eggs weren’t such scary things) and loving the vinegar and peppery emulsion. It is truly a great way to cook chicken — but I think (like most grilled chicken) it is not really worth it unless you are using on-the-bone chicken and grilling over indirect charcoal. Grilled chicken does not have to taste like carpet, you know?
Charcoal grilling is not quite as easy as flipping on a gas grill, but it is so worth it. Our model has a gas-fired ignition which takes the hassle out of lighting stacks of chimney. (No lighter fluid, people.) The indirect method is simple: put all coals in the middle and light them (using a stack, ignition, or any method you choose), when hot and glowing (after 10-15 minutes) spread half of the coals to each side and place a drip pan in the middle, and cook your chicken in the middle so the coals don’t char it too much. Chicken pieces on the bone take about 20-30 minutes to cook. The meaty part of the thigh should register about 170 degrees F. I like to put the chicken back over the coals for a few minutes when it is about done so it chars just a bit. (I remember eating a lot of charred chicken skin as a child. It will probably come back to haunt me some day.)
I prefer this chicken as-is, but my husband loves it with barbecue sauce on top of the marinade. Your choice.
Rueben’s Barbecued Chicken
Makes enough to marinade 6-8 chicken pieces
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 t salt (original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons, so you decide)
1 t freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 t poultry seasoning
6-8 pieces of on-the-bone chicken with skin (we did a cut up whole chicken — 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 wings — and the thighs always get devoured.)
Put all ingredients (except the chicken, of course) in a blender and blend at high speed for about one minute until emulsified and frothy. It will look white and milky. Pour into a 9 x 13 pyrex pan and add chicken pieces. Marinade for several hours (or more) and flip and rotate pieces at least once.
Grill chicken pieces over indirect heat for 20-30 minutes until the thigh registers about 170 F. Glaze with barbecue sauce if you like.