What’s the deal with liquid marinades? Ziplock bags have become the new badge of grill honor. If you don’t bring your steak or chicken out in a Ziplock full of mystery liquid you have already lost grill-cred, bro. Who cares what you threw in there (balsamic vinegar, ketchup and teriyaki, or Sriracha, olive oil and brown sugar). If it’s not fully submerged, they say your dish won’t float.
What about the dry rub method? The meat is smothered with a dry coat of spices that gradually massages its way in. I find that rubs are more of a holistic tenderization approach. This particular rub I adapted from Bon Appetit 2004 produced a juicy meat and a crispy, caramelized crust of brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and other chili spices. Rubs also do not require running for the paper towels to sop up any excess wetness before slapping your protein on the grill. Leaving a dry rub on during the cooking can boost your flavor even more.
The spice butter that was brushed on just before serving was the icing on this cake. It was better than sauce, gravy, or any possible seasoning combination. Then again, it is butter-based. When I combined all the ingredients for the butter, it looked like the consistency of honey mustard. But boy, did it taste like heaven. Although Virginia may not be Dixieland, I had a taste of it there that night by the grill. The grilled chicken and potatoes, the bite of slaw I snagged from a friend, and the Triple Chocolate Pudding Pie that was waiting for me in the fridge all spelled Dixie to me.
Dixie Chicken with Cayenne Spice Rub
2 T salt
1 T coarsely ground black pepper
1 T packed golden brown sugar
2 t garlic powder
1 ½ t cornstarch
1 ½ t onion powder
1 t lemon-pepper seasoning
1 t chili powder
¼ t ground cumin
1 t cayenne pepper
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 pounds chicken (can be breasts, cut-up-whole-chickens, legs, wings, etc.)
1. Combine first 9 ingredients in small bowl; whisk spice rub to blend well.
2. Transfer 1 T space rub to medium bowl; add butter and mix well.
3. Chill butter until well solidified.
4. Sprinkle spice rub over both sides of chicken pieces. Arrange on wax-paper-lined plate. Let sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
5. Prepare grill; lay the chickens on the areas of the grill that receive medium-high heat.
6. Grill about 15 minutes, turn chicken over. Grill until skin is deep golden, about 10 minutes. **Cooking times varying depending if you have boneless or bone-in chicken; boneless chicken cooks faster. Sometimes you may need to finish the chicken in the microwave to make sure that it does not dry out but is cooked through**
7. Brush chicken with butter before serving.