Firecracker Barbecue Chicken with Grilled Cherry Bomb Salad

Main Course

Recipe courtesy of Acadiana Table by George Graham

Serves 12 to 16



  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil 
  • 2 cups (320 g) finely diced yellow onion 
  • 1 cup (120 g) finely diced celery 
  • ½ cup (8 g) chopped fresh cilantro leaves 
  • ¼ cup (40 g) minced garlic 
  • 2½ cups (550 g) chili sauce 
  • 1/a cup (80 ml) sugarcane vinegar 
  • ½ cup (170 g) sugarcane molasses 
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 cup (225 g) light brown sugar 
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped, with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon (7 g) smoked paprika 
  • 1 tablespoon (9 g) mustard powder 
  • 2 tablespoons (20 g) Cajun Seasoning Blend 



  • 4 chickens (3 to 4 pounds, or 1.4 to 1.8 kg each), halved lengthwise 
  • 2 cups (576 g) salt 
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil 
  • 1 cup (150 g) Cajun Seasoning Blend
  • ½ cup (96 g) lemon pepper seasoning 
  • ¼ cup (36 g) garlic powder 



  • 1 jar (10 ounces, or 280 g) spicy red pepper jelly 
  • 2 tablespoons (28 ml) sugarcane vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1 tablespoon (21 g) Creole mustard or other coarse-grained mustard 
  • ½ cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 24 large cherry tomatoes or small Roma tomatoes 
  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce, leaves separated 
  • 12 large spring onions, green stalks attached, or green onions

Firecracker Barbecue Chicken with Grilled Cherry Bomb Salad

Firecracker Barbecue Chicken with Grilled Cherry Bomb Salad

Click image to enlarge




Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, cilantro, and gar­lic. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chili sauce, vinegar, mo­lasses, Worcestershire, and brown sugar and stir until the mixture is heated through. Add the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, paprika, mustard powder, and Cajun Seasoning Blend. Stir until the sauce reaches a simmer and then turn down the burner to its lowest setting. Cook on low heat, stirring every 5 minutes, for about 30 minutes. The sauce should be thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. 

Blend the sauce with an immersion blender or pour into a food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to cook the chicken. 


Put the chicken in a large container and make a saltwater brining solution by mixing the salt with enough water to cover the chicken. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. 

Remove the chicken from the brine and wipe away any excess moisture from the chicken with paper towels; brush the skin of the chicken with a light coating of olive oil on all sides. 

Make a rub by mixing the Cajun Seasoning Blend, lemon pepper, and garlic powder. Sprinkle the rub on all sides of the chicken halves; place on a tray and let rest at room temperature. 

Turn on only one of the burners on a gas grill to medium-high heat; once the grill reaches a temperature of 250°F (120°C), add the chicken, skin-side down, to the part of the grill that is not above the lit burner. Indirect heat is the key. Once the chicken is on the grill, close the hood and cook for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over and grill for another 20 minutes. 

Brush the inside (non-skin) part of the chicken with some of the sauce and let the chicken cook with the hood up for another 15 minutes. Watch carefully for any flare-ups. Turn the chicken and brush the skin side with sauce and place on the hottest part of the grill for a final few minutes of cooking. Watch carefully and adjust the burners to prevent flare-ups. 1he sauce will burn if left unattended, so when you first begin to see blackened edges, transfer the chicken to a platter. 

Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer placed in the center of the thigh without touching bone. The internal temperature should be in the range of 175° to 180°F (79° to 82°C). If it isn't, wrap the chicken in foil (to prevent the sauce from burning) and return the chicken to the grill, cooking it until done. 

Cut into portioned pieces and move to a platter. Cover with aluminum foil and keep warm until serving. 


Make sure your grill grates are cleaned and wiped with a light coating of oil. Turn the burners on low to medium heat. 

Pour the red pepper jelly into a small pan and place on the grill away from direct heat. 

Make a simple dressing by whisking the vinegar, lemon juice, and Creole mustard in a small bowl; while whisking, slowly drizzle enough olive oil into the bowl to form an emulsion. Season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Set the dressing aside. 

Slice the tomatoes in half and place the halves in a wire grilling basket (or on a wire rack), skin-side down. Leave the spring onions whole, with stalks attached. Sprinkle all the vegeta­bles lightly with salt and black pepper. 

Place the romaine leaves on a large plate. Lightly coat the leaves with the dressing and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place the onions on the grill with the bulbs over direct heat and the green stalks away from the flame. Cook until softened and charry, about 10 min­utes, and then remove from the grill. 

While the onions are cooking, place the grill basket of tomatoes, skin-side down, on the grill over direct heat. Cook just until the tomatoes warmed through, about 5 minutes. Remove the basket from the grill and brush the open side of the tomato halves with a light coating of the red pepper jelly. Turn the basket over and grill over direct heat. Watch carefully, as the sugars in the red pepper jelly will burn quickly. Once you have char marks on the tomatoes, remove them from the grill. 

Clean the grates with a wire brush and oil them again. Set the burners on different heat levels, with one side hot and the other side just warm. With long-handled tongs, add the ro­maine leaves and spread them out evenly across the grill. You want a very quick charring, as the dressing will drip and cause flare-ups in the hotter section of the grill. With the tongs, flip the romaine leaves around the grill to control the amount of char. 'This is a very quick process, and you should never leave the grill. It should take no more than 5 minutes to grill all the romaine leaves. 

For serving, arrange the grilled lettuce leaves on a large platter, with the tomatoes and onions placed evenly throughout. Arrange the chicken on the platter. Drizzle all lightly with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper.


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