Hula Whirl Chicken

It seems that to make it big in the cooking world you’ve got to have some kind of catchy cooking style or some signature ingredients. Emeril is bamming his “essences”. Bobby Flay has chipotles. Rachel Ray has her EVOO. And Paula Dean has got butter more than covered.

Me? I’ve got what my dear wife calls my “whirly sauces.”

A lot of my recipes rely on marinades that I assemble on the fly in the food processor (AKA “give them a whirl”). Sometimes they are just simple, herby vinaigrette-style concoctions that use acid, oil, and spices to flavor the food. But I also like to make sauces that do double duty as both a marinade and a baste or finishing sauce.

This recipe started out as Huli Huli Chicken. I wanted to amp up the flavors, so I switched out the ketchup for sweet chili sauce and I tweaked the recipe a bit. Here the whirly sauce starts as a marinade, gets amended with some other goodies, and then gets reduced down for a glaze.

12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup raw or brown sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon orange or lemon juice
1 tablespoon Sriracha Rooster sauce

For the baste:
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce

Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the sweet chili sauce, teriyaki sauce, raw sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, orange juice, and Sriracha and give them a whirl until they are well-combined.

Put the chicken in a zip-top bag and cover with the marinade. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal. Turn to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, overnight is better.

Set your grill up for an direct cook at medium-high (400°F) heat.

Drain chicken and reserve marinade. Pour the marinade into a small sauce pan and add the crushed pineapple and a 1/4 cup of both the sweet chili sauce and the teriyaki sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the sauce has reduced by half (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Pour half the sauce off to baste the chicken with. Refrigerate the other half to serve with the finished chicken.

Grill the thighs for about 3 minutes on one side. Flip and baste with the reserved marinade. Repeat until the thighs are crispy on the outside and at least 180°F on the inside (about 10 to 15 minutes total). Serve with the other half of the reserved pineapple mixture.

The Verdict: ★★★★☆
This was a tasty dish with a nice mix of sweet and savory, but it was lacking something (no, not the ketchup). I think using teriyaki cut some of the salty tang of the soy sauce in my original version. I’d add a 1/4 soy sauce to this mix and bump the heat up with more Sriracha and/or chili garlic paste.

The Nutrition:
Two thighs with 2 tablespoons of sauce are only 277 calories and 7 Weight Watchers points.

ONE YEAR AGO – Great Grate Upgrade

TWO YEARS AGO – Recipe Revamp – Grilled Swiss Steak


7 thoughts on “Hula Whirl Chicken”

  1. I really like your sub of the chili sauce. I’m falling in love with that stuff. That chicken looks so good on that grill. And with a 4-star rating, I better give this a try.

  2. Gonna be making this for dinner tonight. Currently the thighs are in the fridge sitting in the marinade. For the marinade, I followed your recommendations to add 1/4 cup of soy and I bumped up with an extra tablespoon of Sriracha. The only other liberty that I took with the recipe was that I make my own garlic/ginger paste (equal parts); so I used 2 TBS of this for the garlic and ginger. The marinade tasted really good. Can’t wait to grill them out tonight.

  3. Dave, flavor of the recipe was awesome. The glaze is what put the thighs over the top. I generally try to cook a batch of chicken on Sundays to eat the rest of the week. I have a variety of marinades that I cycle through. This will defintely be part of my chicken rotation. Also, I wanted to let you know that I turned several friends onto your Honey Hog BBQ sauce…..everyone loves that stuff on ribs. Speaking of which I need to make another batch this weekend. Keep up the great food porn posts and thanks for sharing.

    1. Glad to hear it, thanks!

      Yeah, I need to make up another batch too. Hoping to cook up some ribs this weekend. Have you been making version 1.0 or 2.0?

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