Unless you’re from Upstate NY, you’re probably asking yourself ‘WTF is Cornell Chicken?’ Well, my friends, here’s your BBQ history lesson for the day.
The original Cornell Chicken Marinade recipe was developed by Bob Baker, Professor of Food Science at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Mr. Baker was a specialist in poultry, and helped invent some whacky poultry based foods like chicken nuggets, turkey dogs and turkey ham.
His original recipe has been duplicated and used infinitely at fire department fundraising BBQs, county fairs and little league cookouts across Upstate and Western NY. Bob Baker’s family operated ‘Baker’s Chicken Shack’ is still a NY State Fair staple, even though Bob passed away in 2006.
For these skewers, I’ve adapted the original recipe from vegetable oil and a raw egg whisked together, which in my mind equates to mayonnaise. So, because sometimes I’m lazy, I subbed with straight up mayonnaise. But, because sometimes I’m not so lazy, I threw together my own scratch made poultry seasoning blend. I also used boneless, skinless chicken breast for skewer friendly deliciousness.
If you’re even the least bit curious, give this a go. Seriously, folks. It’s like summertime flavor perfection. Especially when paired with another Upstate NY staple, the salt potato. Toss in a few perfectly blistered, sweet cherry tomatoes, and you’ve got yourself a balanced meal on a stick.
Who could ask for anything more?
Cornell Chicken, Salt Potato & Blistered Tomato Skewers
(makes 4 servings)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
1 lb baby yellow or red potatoes
5 cups water
3/4 cup kosher salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter (melted and clarified)
1 tbsp fresh parsley (minced)
1 quart cherry tomatoes (rinsed and dried)
To make the chicken marinade, whisk together the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, white pepper, sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, allspice and salt.
Slice the uncooked chicken breast against the grain into 1/2″ thick strips. Put the sliced chicken breast in a glass bowl or ziplock bag, and pour the marinade over the top and toss to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
To make the salt potatoes, bring the water and salt to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and cook them until they are fork tender (15 – 20 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes.)
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked potatoes to a wire rack set over parchment paper or a paper towel and allow them to sit so the remaining salt dries on the skins. Transfer the cooked potatoes to a bowl and pour over the melted butter and minced parsley. Toss to evenly coat.
When you’re ready to start grilling, skewer a strip of marinated chicken (folded over and skewered a few times like in the photo below. I’ve found this size/shape/folding method allows for the most evenly cooked, tender chicken pieces.), followed with a bite-sized or halved salt potato, followed by a cherry tomato. Repeat this pattern until your skewers are full.
Grill the skewers over medium heat for around 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
Dust off the old backyard game of horseshoes, or even better, an outlawed set of Jarts, The Family Missile Game, and you’ll be instantly transported back to a simpler time. A time when extended families hung out and ate delicious BBQ chicken with buttery salt potatoes, following a full afternoon of tossing heavy and/or sharp metal objects across the yard at each other. You know, just for funsies.
OMFG. SO GOOD.