Serves 4 to 6
Split chicken halves are whole chickens that have been split in two through the breastbone. Buy them at the market or prepare them yourself. Lee Kum Kee Tabletop Soy Sauce is our favorite supermarket brand.
2 quarts water
2 cups soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 split chicken halves (about 8 pounds total) (see note)
3 (6-ounce) cans pineapple juice
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup rice vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic sauce
2 cups wood chips, soaked for 15 minutes
- BRING CHICKEN Combine water and soy sauce in large bowl. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir into soy sauce mixture. Add chicken and refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
- MAKE GLAZE Combine pineapple juice, sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and chili-garlic sauce in empty saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thick and syrupy (you should have about 1 cup), 20 to 25 minutes.
- PREP GRILL Seal wood chips in foil packet and cut vent holes in top. Open bottom vents on grill. Light about 75 coals. When coals are covered with fine gray ash, spread evenly over bottom of grill. Arrange foil packet directly on coals. Set cooking grate in place and heat, covered with lid vent open halfway, until wood chips begin to smoke heavily, about 5 minutes. (For gas grill, place foil packet directly on primary burner. Heat all burners on high, covered, until wood chips begin to smoke heavily, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-low.) Scrape and oil cooking grate.
- GRILL CHICKEN Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange chicken skin-side up on grill (do not place chicken directly above foil packet). Grill, covered, until chicken is well browned on bottom and meat registers 120 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Flip chicken skin-side down and continue to grill, covered, until skin is well browned and crisp and thigh meat registers 170 to 175 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to platter, brush with half of glaze, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve, passing remaining glaze at table.
Both the brine and the glaze can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Do not brine the chicken for longer than 8 hours or it will become too salty.
Key to Bold Flavor Mesquite
Authentic huli huli chicken is grilled over kiawe wood, from a hardwood tree that is a species of mesquite. The test kitchen finds mesquite wood chips too assertive for long-cooked chicken and pork dishes; after an hour or two, the smoke turns the meat bitter. But we liked them in this comparatively quick recipe. Our Huli Huli Chicken recipe will work with any variety of wood chips, but if you care about authenticity, mesquite is the chip of choice.