Though the chicken is normally spatchcocked for this smoky Thai specialty, cutting it into pieces works just as well. Cilantro leaves and stems are a fine substitute for the cilantro root traditionally used in this dish. This recipe first appeared in our June/July 2013 issue with Andy Ricker's article Best Bird.
- 1 (3–4-lb.) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems
- 1⁄3 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 2 1⁄2 tsp. ground white pepper
- 15 cloves garlic, peeled (10 whole, 5 finely chopped)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 cup white vinegar
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 tbsp. crushed red chile flakes
Place chicken in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Pulse cilantro, soy sauce, oil, white pepper, and 10 whole garlic cloves in a food processor until smooth; rub ¾ marinade over chicken. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight. Reserve remaining marinade.
Bring chopped garlic, sugar, vinegar, salt, and 1 cup water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Cook, stirring, until sauce is reduced by half, 12–15 minutes. Stir in chile flakes; let sauce cool.
Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn burner off on one side (see "Grilling 101"). Grill chicken on hottest part of grill, turning as needed, and using a brush, baste chicken with reserved marinade, until slightly charred and cooked through, 25–30 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reads 165°. If the outside starts to burn before the chicken is fully cooked, move to the cooler side of the grill until done. Serve with chile sauce on the side.