Think of Hawaiian chicken as a theme dish open to interpretation instead of a traditional recipe, which must follow exact instructions for authenticity. Include pineapple as the main flavoring ingredient, and you can make your own variation on this loosely structured dish. Follow the basic rules of marinating and flavoring, such as tart ingredients to balance sweet, and use canned pineapple instead of fresh, which contains active bromelain, an enzyme that turns chicken mushy within minutes.
Things You'll Need
Put 1 cup of pureed pineapple in a mixing bowl for every pound of chicken. Add sugar equal to 1/4 the amount of pineapple. Any sugar works — honey, agave, brown sugar, demerara, for example — you just want to coax out enough juice to create a glaze.
Add vinegar to the marinade. Use the same amount of vinegar that you did sugar. Apple cider, champagne and distilled white vinegar all work.
Add a secondary flavoring such as soy sauce, a typical component of Hawaiian chicken. Take the flavor in a different direction with teriyaki, Worcestershire, mirin or sriracha sauce, for example, while still staying true to the original dish.
Add pungent ingredients to the marinade. Ginger, garlic and chile peppers all balance the sweetness of the marinade equally well.
Taste the marinade and season it with fresh herbs and spices of choice. Use fresh herbs, such as sage or thyme, or dried spices, such as paprika and chili powder, to give the marinade your finishing touch.
Stir in 1/2 cup of olive oil for every pound of chicken. Add the chicken to the marinade and toss it to coat. Marinate whole pieces of chicken for 3 or 4 hours in the fridge; marinade sliced chicken for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the bottom of a shallow baking dish with enough marinade to cover; transfer the chicken to the dish.
Mix a few tablespoons of pineapple juice and brown sugar and set it aside. Wrap the dish in aluminum foil and place it in the oven.
Bake the chicken for 30 minutes, then remove the aluminum foil. Baste the chicken with the pineapple juice and brown sugar. Cover the chicken with pineapple rings, if desired.
Return the chicken to the oven and continue baking it until the glaze or pineapples caramelize; baste the chicken every 5 minutes. Check a thigh and a breast for an internal temperature of 165 F.
Heat the grill to medium to medium-high heat. If you’re using charcoal, pile the lit coals on one side of the tray.
Thread the chicken on skewers along with vegetables and pineapple chunks. Onions and peppers always work with chicken and pineapples, but you can use anything you like. Alternate between vegetables, pineapples and chicken on the skewers.
Arrange the skewers on the cooler side of the grill or around the edges. Place them where they won’t cook over a direct flame.
Turn the skewers every 3 or 4 minutes. Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes; then move them over a direct flame.
Grill the skewers over a direct flame until the pineapples caramelize, no more than a minute or 2. The chicken is ready when it cooks through with no traces of pink inside.