The NASCAR Inspired Dish of the Week - Faygo Root Beer Chicken

It's time for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to head to Michigan for the running of the 2014 Quicken Loans 400. It's a race where the teams show up hoping to do their best in front of the movers and shakers in the auto industry. But, as always, I break away once a week from reporting news to talking about food. Don't worry - I'll post a few news items later in the day.

Michigan has some great sports venues and some of them have a tie to pretty popular foods. Take Ball Park Franks®  for an example. The Ball Park® brand was launched in 1957 in response to a request from the owner of the Detroit Tigers baseball team. That's pretty Cool. Also Faygo sodas were born in the Detroit area back in 1907. Faygo Root Beer was even voted the best tasting by Bon Appétit magazine in 2009.

So, I thought my tie-in for a recipe for your Michigan International Race Weekend would be something with some really tasty root beer!

Kent's Semi Famous Root Beer Chicken with Seasoned Grilled Potato Slices

A newspaper in Tennessee wrote an article about me after I was on the Emeril Live television show. The article consisted of my contest winning barbecue cornbread recipe that Emeril and I cooked together. The article also had a picture of me standing by the grill and mentioned in a caption, "As Kent grills his famous root beer chicken." Well, let me tell you how many times my phone rang from people wanting the root beer chicken recipe. People called for weeks wanting to know what it was and how to make it. I spent many nights emailing food lovers this simple recipe. In fact, I received an email back from one nice lady who accused me of leaving out a secret ingredient because it seemed too easy. 

Kent's Root Beer Chicken:

  • 6 - 8 chicken leg quarters or thighs
  • Root beer - Faygo brand if possible!
  • Minced garlic
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Place the chicken quarters in a pan or bowl large enough to hold them. Chop the onions into very small pieces and mince the garlic. Pour the root beer over the chicken. Add the garlic and onion then cover with cling wrap. Place the whole thing in the fridge overnight and grill the next day over medium-high, direct heat. Place any remaining marinade in a saucepan and reduce it while adding a dash of salt, pepper and brown sugar. Boil the root beer down for about 30 minutes and use as a light baste. You can adjust by adding some hot sauce if desired. Serve hot over seasoned grilled potatoes.

Sliced Potatoes:
Slice several baking potatoes into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick chip-like slices. Coat lightly with olive oil and your choice of seasoning. In my opinion, creole seasoning seems to work best with this dish. Oil the cooking grate and grill until golden, turning as needed. You can also use grilled eggplant, squash or any of your favorite grilled veggies. You can drizzle with a light Mexican-style cheese sauce, vinaigrette or even a thinned ranch dressing if desired.

Root Beer Chicken Tip:
You can use your choice of chicken cuts. For several reasons, chicken thighs are a standard around barbecue circles. Chicken thighs are affordable for a crowd, they have natural flavor due to the fat content, they are easy to season and they cook evenly. Chicken breasts are leaner and tend to dry out quicker. For a recipe like this, consider wrapping the breast in some foil for the last part of the cooking process. You can also use cola, fruit flavored sodas, ginger ale and more in place of the root beer.

More great tailgate dishes can be found on!

Tailgate Infield Image: Flickr -  tequilamike

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