Thunderclap Chicken

Last week while driving out to Western PA for a family “oblication,” we were grooving to tunes on the Sirius XM “Classic Vinyl” radio station when the familiar sound of “Something in the Air” came blasting on. What was NOT familiar, was the band name “Thunderclap Newman;” neither one of us had ever heard that name before—but it stayed with us—more on that in a minute…

Then, later that week, after numerous pork and beef dinners with the in-laws, we all had a hankering for grilled chicken, so Russ started looking through recipes on our iPad and he found an appetizing “Grilled Chicken with Apricot-Balsamic Glaze” in his Fine Cooking recipe box (recipe follows.)

Out in Butler they had been experiencing on-and-off rain for weeks, and during our visit, it was no different. This particular day called for showers and every time we did a check on, the precipitation percentage changed, making it real hard to determine if we should go ahead and grill or not. Consensus was, yes we would light the charcoal and hope for the best. Within about 15 minutes of putting the chicken parts on the grill, the skies darkened, thunder started booming, and a huge deluge came raining down.

As we heard the thunder approaching, someone turned the oven to 400 degrees in anticipation of rushing the partially grilled meat into the house, which is exactly what happened. What do you do in a case like this? Why, extend happy hour of course! So while the chicken continued to get happy, so did we!


After about 40 minutes in the oven, the chicken and all the fixin’s were ready. The storm continued to assault the outside, and just as the platter of chicken was placed on the table, a loud crack of thunder boomed, and so I renamed the recipe “Thunderclap Chicken” — and all agreed it was probably one of the most flavorful and moist chicken any of us ever had!

This simple lick-your-fingers, glaze-y chicken is perfect for a small cookout. The glaze has just the right amount of sweetness and can be made ahead. You can buy two whole chickens and cut them into parts yourself, or you can look in your butcher’s display case for bone-in parts that are about the same size—legs about 5 oz. each, thighs about 6 oz., and breast halves a little more than a pound each.

  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves (preferably without corn syrup)
  • 3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil for the grill
  • Two 4-lb. chickens, each cut into 8 pieces, or 5 to 6 lb. good-quality bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, drumsticks, and breasts, each breast half cut into two pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper

PS- Thunderclap Newman was a British one-hit wonder band that Pete Townshend of The Who and Kit Lambert formed circa December 1968 – January 1969 in a bid to showcase the talents of John “Speedy” Keen, Andy “Thunderclap” Newman and Jimmy McCulloch. Their single “Something in the Air” was a 1969 UK Number One hit.


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