"When I came up with this recipe, I was seeking an alternative to a traditional Caesar salad and it is now my go to chicken dish for summer. Black garlic is one of those ingredients that so many people ask me what to do with it and I believe that this is the perfect recipe to showcase its unique flavour.
Black garlic is sweeter and more tangy than regular garlic and the its deep umami twang is really rich in antioxidants making it a true super food. The marinade works just as well on oven roasted chicken as smoked so it’s a great one to have in your arsenal of crowd pleasing chicken dishes and leftovers are amazing tossed through a cous cous salad or mixed with mayo for a stellar sandwich filling.
Ingredients for black garlic BBQ chicken salad
- 1 medium whole chicken
- A big bunch of fresh thyme
- 50g black garlic cloves peeled
- 100g honey
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 100ml apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 125ml cold water
- Fine sea salt
- 2/3 tablespoons brown sugar
- Cracked black pepper
- 2 heads of Romaine lettuce or other lettuce of your choice, or a nice mix – pick your fave!
- Alabama white BBQ sauce
How to make black garlic BBQ chicken salad
- PREPARE THE SEASONINGS. Strip half the bunch of thyme from its woody stems and tie the other half of the bunch into a bundle with some kitchen string, you’re going to use this later as a basting brush – adds flavour and zero washing up.
- Add the thyme, black garlic, honey, cayenne, vinegar and olive oil into a blender and whizz it until everything is emulsified and smooth, heat in a small pan until just boiling, but don’t reduce it, pour into a bowl, add the cold water, mix and move on to the chicken.
- PREP THE MEAT. On a cutting board lay the chicken breast side down and cavity facing you. Place your hands on the back of the chicken as if you were about to perform resuscitation on it and press down slowly but firmly until you hear a crack, that’s the breast bone cracking, now your chicken should sit flatter and more stably on the board.
- Using a strong pair of kitchen scissors cut up either side of the parsons nose, and remove the whole section from cavity to neck, this part should be about an inch and a half wide, discard or freeze for use in stock/gravy later. Now take hold of the two sides of the chicken and open it like a book. Press the leg/thigh sections that you have opened out down firmly into the board, cracking is a good sound to hear. This process is called spatchcocking and can be done with any bird such as turkey, duck or pigeon and vastly reduces cooking time whilst increasing surface area for grill contact and flavour.
- Place the chicken into a large roasting tin or tray that can accommodate it easily whilst it is flat. Thoroughly season the whole bird all over with salt, leave for 2 to 3 minutes and repeat this process with brown sugar and cracked black pepper.
- Now tip half of the black garlic mixture from earlier onto the chicken and massage it in well. Cover the tray tightly with cling film and chill in the bottom of the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Get ready to smoke
- First you need to fire up your smoker. Get the coals going and once they have all lit and have become white add a few pieces of your wood of choice. The more wood you add the stronger the smoke flavour, 2 hand size chunks is good for a quick smoke like this one.
- Add hot water to the water pan (never cold as this lowers the temp inside and slows the whole process down) Put the lid on the smoker but leave the vents open. let the fire die down as if you were going to BBQ burgers or a steak. When your temp has settled to around 140 Celsius you’ll be ready to add the meat.
- If using the Meater insert into the chicken breast lengthways up to the line in the thickest part you can and set the cook to removal at 80 degrees Celsius, ignore this step if your using a Thermapen or other probe.
- Now lay the chicken on the smoker racks breast side up and close the lid. Set the vents to ¾ closed and leave for 10 minutes. Keeping an eye on the temp. If it shoots above 140 close the vents more on the bottom and vent by opening the lid briefly. If it drops below 110 celsius rake your coals and add some more and/or more wood to bring back the heat. Opening the bottom vent will also make the heat rise as it brings more air to the fire and stokes it.
- After 10 minutes, thoroughly baste the chicken with the remaining black garlic marinade by dipping the bunch of thyme into the mixture and using it as a brush. Repeat this process every 10 minutes, flipping the chicken each time, until the Meater, or another temp probe reaches at least 80 degrees Celsius and the chicken looks browned and juicy. Remove to a large platter and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes.
Plating the chicken salad
- While your chicken is resting wash and tear up your lettuces and arrange on a large platter or bowl.
- On a clean chopping board cut the chicken into 10 pieces (drums, thighs, wings and breasts split into two)
- Arrange over the lettuce and drizzle liberally with the white BBQ sauce and put more on the side for extra dipping. Scatter the salad with croutons and crispy onions and for extra decadence add little dabs here and there of fresh honey comb to find amongst the leaves like little pools of golden sweet surprise.
Chef and recipe writer Jenny Greenhalgh has worked in kitchens and cookery schools for over 20 years. She has spent time cooking at St John, and in Jamie Oliver's Cookery School. She runs the pop-up Two Dogs, bringing the food and music of the American south to London with a big dose of fun, plaid and Dolly Parton. She is a BBQ smoker expert.