Southern Delaware-style BBQ Chicken

A summer tradition with upstate New York roots

I will never forget that summer day as a boy in Ithaca, New York when I first tasted BBQ chicken. Smokey, tangy, herbaceous, and the char was so good. Cornell University professor, Dr. Robert C. Baker  created the recipe and essentially pioneered the poultry industry by incorporating innovative techniques that promoted and popularized poultry consumption. His Cornell Chicken recipe features a distinctive vinegar-based marinade that uses the protein of eggs to help flavor the sauce and allow it to caramelize. It was an instant favorite and, little did I know then that this taste of summer would follow me across states and through the years.

The connection between upstate New York and the Delmarva region’s chicken BBQ traditions finally made sense to me.

For example, many years later when I was in Georgetown, Delaware, I was transported back to Ithaca by tasting a similar BBQ chicken at a Little League field. Dr. Baker’s recipe made its way to Delmarva and, after some added nuances, Delaware-style BBQ chicken became a mainstay at many community events, fundraisers, fairs and roadside stands. The connection between upstate New York and the Delmarva region’s chicken BBQ traditions finally made sense to me. As a chef, consultant, and writer living in southern Delaware, I cherish this recipe and often share it with friends and family. I am proud to share it here:

Southern Delaware-Style BBQ Chicken 

  • Chicken: 2 whole chickens halved or quartered
  • Vinegar-based Marinade
  • Bragg’s apple cider vinegar: 240 ml (1 cup)
  • Neutral cooking oil of your choosing: 240 ml (1 cup)
  • Eggs: 2 large
  • Old Bay seasoning: 15 g (1 tbsp)
  • Salt: 10 g (2 tsp)
  • Ground black pepper: 5 g (1 tsp)
  • Poultry seasoning: 15 g (1 tbsp)
  • Fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary): 30 g (1 oz), finely chopped
  • White soy sauce or Liquid Shio Koji: 30 ml (2 tbsp)

Prepare the Marinade:

Whisk the egg in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly beaten.

Add the cooking oil while whisking until the mixture is
well emulsified.

Add the Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, Old Bay seasoning, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, fresh herbs, and white soy sauce.
Mix well. 

Marinate the Chicken:

Put the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish.

Pour the marinade over the chicken, ensuring it is well coated.

Seal the bag or dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours,
preferably overnight. 

Grill the Chicken:

Preheat your charcoal grill to medium heat.

Remove the chicken from the marinade.

Place the chicken on the grill, skin-side down.

Grill for about 10 minutes on each side, basting occasionally with the remaining marinade.

Continue grilling, turning frequently, and basting for approximately 50 minutes or an hour until the internal temperature reaches 74°C (165°F).

Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy the taste of summer.

Chef Hari Cameron is a renowned culinary expert, consultant and restaurateur. He has received critical acclaim for his modern farm-to-table approach to cooking and has been recognized for his numerous contributions to the hospitality industry. With a passion for using the highest quality Mid-Atlantic ingredients, Chef Cameron has become a leading voice in today’s culinary landscape.

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