From America's Test Kitchen Season 5: New Flavors from the Grill
This herb- and spice-rubbed chicken is served in small pieces and eaten as finger food, along with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. We wanted to develop a recipe for Thai grilled chicken to offer a refreshing change of pace from typical barbecue fare. After testing numerous rub combinations, we liked the simplest version, made only with cilantro, black pepper, lime juice, and garlic, accented with the earthy flavor of coriander and fresh ginger. To flavor the meat as well as the skin, we took some of the rub and placed it in a thick layer under the skin as well as on top of it. For perfectly cooked chicken, we made a modified two-level fire (one side of the grill holds all of the coals; the other side is empty), first browning the chicken directly over the coals and then moving it to the cool side of the grill to finish cooking. The true Thai flavors of this dish come through in the sauce, a classic combination of sweet and spicy. We found balance in a blend of sugar, lime juice, white vinegar, hot red pepper flakes, fish sauce, and garlic.
For even cooking, the chicken breasts should be of comparable size. The best way to ensure this is to buy whole breasts and split them yourself, (see instructions below). If you prefer to skip this step, try to purchase split bone-in, skin-on breasts that weigh about 12 ounces each. If using a charcoal grill, you will need a disposable aluminum roasting pan to cover the chicken (the lid on a charcoal grill can give the chicken resinous "off" flavors). Some of the rub is inevitably lost to the grill, but the chicken will still be flavorful.