Saturday dinner: Guinness marinated chicken

We broke the grill out for the first time this season today. For some, this is an annual rite of passage marking the beginning of summer. Not so much here. It’s the time of year where I roll the dice and wonder if I have enough propane from last season to start and finish dinner.

Complicating matters was an oversight on my part. Last year, I must have put the grill away not realizing it would be the last time I would use it for the year. As a result, I never turned the gas valve off. Whoops. Nonetheless, there was enough propane in the tank to get me through this evening and, likely, a couple of more nights on the grill.

I like using beer as a marinade and have found it a solid companion when preparing different meats (London broil or flank steak marinated in Shiner Bock is a personal favorite). I don’t remember exactly where I found the Guinness marinade, but I pinned it to my wall as a reminder to try when the grill was ready to go.

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Anyhow, back to the grill. Two or three years ago, I broke the cast iron grate while doing an end-of-season degreasing. Dropped the little bugger on the driveway and it broke in half the long way. It still works, but I noticed last summer that it was beginning to rust some. Exact replacements are about $75 direct from Char-Broil, so I opted for the universal fold-out replacement jobby from Lowe’s. Naturally, because Murphy’s law is supreme, one of the two I purchased (the last two in the store) was broken. So, we rocked three-quarters of a grill tonight.

No special tricks with this recipe. The original instructions call for the chicken to soak overnight, but the four or so hours it spent bathing in stout seemed to be fine. I’m sure this would work fine with boneless, skinless breasts, but the thighs and legs are so much tastier and more receptive to marinade, that I wouldn’t change it.

It paired well with tonight’s sides: grilled asparagus, Asian slaw and the supremely awesome Wegmans five-bean salad.

Guinness-marinated chicken
Adapted from Rick Bakas 

  • 2 packages of chicken thighs
  • 2 packages of chicken drumsticks
  • 16-22 oz. of Guinness Stout (whatever is available as a single at your grocer, packy, or beer emporium)
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon, then top with the beer, juice and vinegars. Add chicken pieces to a large zipper bag, then pour the marinade over the top. Seal, doing your best to reduce the amount of air in the bag, and refrigerate at least four hours, but preferably overnight.

Ignite your grill and build it to a consistent high heat (450 degrees). Reduce the heat on one side and set the chicken pieces on that side. Cook indirectly 20 minutes, turning periodically. Create an even caramel color on the skin. Move done pieces to the bun rack to prevent burning.


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