Grilled Chicken with Gochujang Sauce

June 17, 2018

There are so many ways to grill chicken thighs. I’ve used recipes that call for searing for a few minutes then cooking over indirect heat; others call for braising in a liquid on the grill before grilling to finish; yet another calls for grilling using indirect heat skin side up finishing with with a quick sear. My Cooks Illustrated magazine came a couple of weeks ago and they use yet another method: cook using indirect heat skin side down followed by a quick sear over direct heat.

Another method of grilling chicken didn’t excite me too much – however, this method looked to be the easiest yet. But what really caught my eye was the preparation of the chicken: the recipe calls for spreading a paste with Korean Gochujang sauce as the base. I love Gochujang sauce. Gochujang paste is a slightly sweet chili paste with just a hint of sweetness. I’ve  made a sauce with Gochujang in the pressure cooker; but I used a sauce instead of a paste as the base. That made it too runny; it was good but I knew it could be better. So this time, I started with the paste. I thought I’d have to go to one of our local Asian markets to find it; but here was a jar in our local New Seasons Grocery Store


That “Extra Spicy” had me worried.

There isn’t a lot to the sauce, but we get some heat, some sweet and some savory.





Measure and mince:


Put it all in a small mixing bowl and whisk it all together. It smelled great.

Fire up the grill. I filled the chimney with briquettes, light it up and let them heat until the top briquettes get a bit of ash on them. In the weather conditions it took about 30 minutes.


While the fire is going, I trimmed the chicken thighs and spread a bit of paste on the skin side and the most on the skin side.

Meanwhile, the grill was just about ready. I use a “Slow ‘n Sear” from ABC Barbecue to give me a nice two zone setup: really hot over the coals and a bit cooler on the other – indirect – side. Before starting the chicken, I put the grate on top, closed the lid and let it heat up a few minutes before scraping and oiling the grates.


Arrange the thighs skin side down on the indirect side.


I cooked them for about 40 minutes swapping inside and outside pieces halfway through – but don’t cook chicken based on time, cook based on temperature: 185°. Chicken thighs are robust and can take the heat. I don’t recommend this recipe with chicken breasts – you’ll just end up with tough, dried out hunks of meat.

Once they reach temperature remove the  temperature probe, if you are using one then move the chicken thighs to the direct side of the grill, skin side down; flip bone side down. I flubbed it a bit here. The recipe calls for up to 5 minutes over direct heat, but that was way too long – I hit 2 minutes and realized I was overcooking burning the skin so quickly moved them back over to the other side.

The ABC Barbecue folks have a great little trick they use – which I saw too late. The grill is round, so – using some serious gloves – simply grab the handles and rotate the whole grate 180° so the cool side is now directly over the coals. Leave them there for a short time – probably less that a minute, then rotate it again to get all the pieces on the cool side; flip the pieces and rotate again to get the underside seared a bit. Then you are done.

Add some salad, corn on the cob and French bread and you have a very nice summer evening meal.


Dinner is served



Rating: ★★★★ 

Very nice indeed. That Gochujang sauce is a great (“winner, winner chicken dinner”) . The extra spicy paste didn’t make the sauce too hot.

The cooking method was so simple – not a lot of moving and flipping every few minutes.

Normally when I grill chicken I brined it first, using four quarts of water, 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup sugar. I might try that next time. These thighs weren’t dried out, but brining might push this from 4 to 5 stars.


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