You definitely don’t have to brine your chicken to ‘fry’ it using the Vortex, but oh boy, does it make a difference. I was watching Eat Street on the Cooking Channel when they did a segment on the Buzznbeez food truck in Tempe, Arizona. They make my kind of food: soul food. Which means fried chicken. Dang good looking fried chicken, so I proceeded to find their recipe and make it on my grill with the Vortex. This right here is great eats. Tender, juicy, beyond flavorful, and oh…. that skin… and that beautiful color. Every bite was a dream come true. I’d make this again and again. For a little twist, I used my homemade smoked sea salt in the brine. It added a slight smokiness. You can get the same effect by placing a chunk of wood over your Vortex while cooking the chicken (something I also like to do when cooking wings on my Vortex, something I do almost daily!).
I make a habit of checking out the fried chicken coating mixes at the grocery store. Sure, I can make my own, but there are so many great commercial mixes out there that I just can’t pass them up. I prefer to ‘fry’ my chicken on my Weber Performer using a Vortex insert. I get that perfectly juicy, crunchy skin, crazy good fried chicken flavor without all of the oil. Kentucky Kernel’s seasoned flour is a perfect mix of herbs and spices, making for some of the best tasting chicken I’ve ever had. Any cut or cuts of chicken will do, but I think that ‘fried’ chicken on the Vortex is best when you use bone-in, skin-on pieces. For me that’s either split chicken breasts or thighs. No matter what you use, you’ll get very juicy tender meat and crispy skin and that’s what you’re here for. Make sure, though, that you don’t over-batter the thicken. You aren’t frying in oil. More is definitely not better when it comes to the batter. Just enough to coat the chicken is all you’ll need.
I like to brush my chicken (very lightly) with just a bit of oil just before I pull it off the grill. It gives the skin that last little special crunch.
I could make (and eat) ‘fried’ chicken using my Vortex BBQ all day long. It has never let me down. It has never been anything but easy. This copycat of Church’s fried chicken was no exception. Incredibly crunchy skin. Unbelievably moist and flavorful meat. And as easy as coating it, grilling it, eating it. Done. There are no tricks or special handshakes that you need to know to get fried chicken right using the Vortex. And although a lot of sites say to rotate the lid every 15 minutes while cooking, I’ve not found that it makes a difference. I don’t over-crowd my grill and I make sure I have a super-hot fire. If you’ve found that rotating the lid is a requirement, let me know but so far, I’ve not had anything but success just keeping the lid right where it is. I also do not flip my chicken while it is cooking. Doing so will result in ‘batter loss’, a bad thing. Just keep it right where it is.
Also try my insanely-awesome proper pub fried chicken, another fantastic recipe for deliciously crispy tasty chicken cooked using the Vortex. You can also use off-the-shelf fried chicken coating to make spectacular chicken on the Vortex. Check out my Kentucky Kernel chicken too!
Tom Kerridge is a Michelin-starred pub chef in England. Yes, pub chef. That’s why I knew that his recipe for proper pub fried chicken would be something special, something incredible. And, oh me, was it ever. The seasonings give every single bite the most fantastic flavor. Tender, moist. And crunchy skin? Oh yes. You could deep fry it, but I cooked this chicken over charcoal using the Vortex and no oil. Yep, no oil (except for like a tablespoon to help crunch up the skin at the very end). I have to admit something. I made a change to Chef Kerridge’s original recipe. Please don’t hate me, but I added hot sauce to the buttermilk brine. I could not help myself. I ALWAYS add hot sauce to my buttermilk when using it for chicken. Not a whole lot, just a little bit to add a slight kick and offset the sourness. You don’t have to do it, and you don’t have to tell anyone if you do.
I’m a huge fan of cooking chicken wings using the Vortex BBQ. I’m also a huge fan of ‘frying’ chicken using the Vortex BBQ. And now, I’m a huge fan of making chicken fingers using the Vortex BBQ. Just as easy as wings or fried chicken, these fingers came out tender and super tasty. They have a very nice coating that is light on crunch but heavy on flavor. And nothing could be easier to make, either! Chicken fingers on the Vortex BBQ cook a whole lot quicker than do wings or chicken thighs. Don’t throw them on and ignore them. They’ll be done in no time.
As I mention in the recipe note, I put foil on my grill grates before I added the chicken. I’m not 100% sure if that’s required, but the chicken didn’t stick.
Note: I covered my grill grates in foil and brushed on a light coating of oil because I thought the fingers might stick. I haven't tried to make them yet without foil. You might want to foil yours also, or at least oil them before adding the chicken.
2 pounds chicken tenderloins
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup buttermilk
Hot sauce, optional, to taste
Fire up your charcoal grill with the Vortex BBQ insert. Let the coals get good and hot.
Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a pie plate.
Pour the buttermilk into another pie plate. Whisk in the hot sauce if using.
Working in batches, dip the chicken into the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, and then once again in the flour.
Transfer to your grill and cook for 15-20 minutes or until done. Lightly brush the chicken with the oil the last 5 minutes of cooking.
I use my Vortex BBQ a few times a week, usually for making a quick batch of wings for lunch for myself. For dinner, though, my go-to dish is ‘fried’ chicken using the same cooking technique as I do for wings. Just batter the chicken (I used bone-in thighs) and onto a hot (and I do mean hot) charcoal grill. In an hour or less I’ve got ‘fried’ chicken without the oil and mess. Crunchy, juicy, and tender. This version of buttermilk fried chicken actually began life as a way of making chicken for another of my favorites, chicken and waffles. Hence the hint of maple syrup. But you don’t need waffles. If you do serve them over waffles, drizzle with a bit more maple syrup just before serving.
There’s definitely no wrong way to make ‘fried’ chicken on your charcoal grill using the Vortex. I absolutely love it. For a long time I’ve been making my chicken using batter made from scratch. This time I decided to try an off-the-shelf batter mix usually meant for actual deep frying in oil. The result? Absolutely delicious, crunchy, moist fried chicken with about as little fuss and mess as possible. And no oil. Any good fried chicken batter mix will work. It’s called easy crispy fried chicken for a reason. Just dip and put onto the grill. I prefer to use split bone-in chicken breasts or thighs. I recommend bone-in chicken because it will have more flavor and won’t dry out as easily as boneless. You can use boneless chicken but you might have to adjust the cook time. When I do need boneless ‘fried’ chicken I still cook it bone-on then remove the meat from the bone when done. If you prefer to make your own batter from scratch, try my super easy Vortex fried chicken recipe. For something a bit more fru-fru, make my spicy BBQ fried chicken. You’ll quickly see why fried chicken on the Vortex is fantastic!
Note: I've found that rotating the lid isn't very necessary, specially on smaller grills. You can experiment by not rotating and checking the chicken after 30 minutes. If the pieces are cooking evenly you can skip rotating the lid.
I made seasoned steak fries on my Weber Performer grill using the Vortex BBQ insert the other day. They came out really, really good. Which got me thinking… could I apply much the same technique to thinner cuts of potatoes, giving me crispy skinny fries? Yep, you bet I could and did! These seasoned skinny fries were fantastic. I ‘fry’ chicken using my Vortex on a pretty regular basis. At least on my Performer that leaves me some spare room for other things and by other things I now mean fries. What’s better than ‘fried’ chicken and crispy seasoned fries for lunch? Nothing. Well, Vortex chicken fingers are might good too, actually.
Note: I only used 2 potatoes because I also cooked 2 large pieces of chicken at the same time as the fries. You could fit 4 potatoes worth of fries on a 22" grill if that's all you're cooking. Don't overcrowd them, though, or they won't cook evenly.
2 Russet potatoes, cut into thin sticks
For the seasoning (makes more than you'll need for one recipe)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fire up your charcoal grill using the Vortex insert. You'll want to use a larger grill, 22" or bigger.
Meanwhile, place the fries into a large bowl of cold water.
Let soak for 5 minutes then drain.
Add water again and soak until you're about ready to start cooking.
Make the seasoning by combining all ingredients.
Drain the fries and pat dry. I like to dump them out onto a large towel and give them a good patting, tossing a few times to make sure I get them all dry.
Transfer fries back to the bowl (wiping it dry first) and add just a splash of oil.
Sprinkle with the seasoning, to taste. I usually use about half of the recipe, but I like mine spicy. You might want to start with 1/4th of the recipe (2 teaspoons or thereabouts). Toss to coat.
Transfer the fries to your grill. Keep them along the edges of the grate and at an angle to the grate so they don't fall in.
Cover (keeping the top vent open) and cook for 45 minutes-1 hour, rotating the lid 90 degrees every 15 minutes.
After 30 minutes carefully flip the fries, checking for doneness.
Remove the fries once they are getting golden brown.
Let cool slightly. The fries will crisp more as they cool.