Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken

Valentina Getting Ready for Huli Huli Chicken with Daddy

Huli Huli chicken is often prepared using chicken halves. Yep, you take a whole chicken and cut it in half, and grill it. Anna had gotten a big bag of leg quarters (on sale!), so I decided that they should be “huli”-ed.

I also made some Hawaiian style macaroni salad and baked the world’s largest sweet potato.

The chicken is brined, grilled, and then doused with a sweet, sticky glaze.

For the chicken:

2 quarts water

2 cups soy sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil (plus extra for the grate)

6 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

4 split chicken halves (about 8 pounds total)

(This is where I substituted the leg quarters. It was a 10 pound bag.)

Chicken brining in ziplock bags

Combine the water and soy sauce in a large bowl. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir into soy sauce/water mixture. Add the chicken and refrigerate, covered, for at least an hour, and up to 8 hours.

Instead of a bowl, I will often brine or marinate meats in a ziplock bag.

For the glaze:

3 (6-ounce) cans pineapple juice

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup ketchup

¼ cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons)

2 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic sauce (like sriracha)

(I used a mild chili-garlic sauce, to make it more kid friendly)

Combine the pineapple juice, sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, ginger, garlic, and chili-garlic sauce in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until thick and syrupy, resulting in about 1 cup.

Start the charcoal using your preferred method. I like a chimney starter. When the coals are ready, build a single level fire, spreading the coals in an even layer in the bottom of the grill. Be sure to include some wood chunks with the coals or toss chips on before the chicken goes on the grate. In Hawaii, Kiawe wood is used for cooking. It’s actually a species of mesquite, so I used some mesquite chunks with the coals in the chimney starter. I also used a couple handfuls of cherry wood chips.

Oil the grate, and place the chicken skin-side up over medium-hot coals. Grill, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes, then turn the pieces over and grill for another 20 to 25 minutes. When done, the skin should be browned and crisp and thigh meat should read 170 to 175 degrees.

(Watch this short video below)

(Note: About 40-45 minutes into the cooking time, I felt that the coals were cooling a bit and that the cooking was slowing. I fired up a ½ full load of coals in the chimney starter, and distributed them evenly over the existing coals in the bottom of the grill. This got things going again. Tossed some smaller mesquite chunks on the coals, too, for good measure.)

Transfer the chicken to a platter and brush with half of the glaze, and let rest 5 minutes. The other half of the glaze can be served at the table.

(Watch Video of Valentina cutting pineapple)

Yes, this is a sweet potato that is as big as a pineapple!

(Watch video of sweet potato being unwrapped!)

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