Koo Koo Roo Original Skinless Flame-Broiled Chicken copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur
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Koo Koo Roo Original Skinless Flame-Broiled Chicken

Score: 5.00. Votes: 4
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This fast-growing West Coast chain is another popular contender in the home meal replacement biz, which includes Boston Market and Kenny Rogers Roasters. In 1990, shortly after Kenneth Berg sold his mortgage banking business for $125 million, he came across a little two-unit chicken chain in Los Angeles that seemed to attract clientele from an income bracket above that of typical burger chain customers. Kenneth discovered that the chicken served in these stores was not only delicious but also prepared with a secret marinade and baste that allowed the chicken to be cooked in a more health-conscious way—without skin. The owners of the restaurants, brothers Michael and Raymond Badalian, created a marinade of juices and spices that kept the chicken moist and juicy inside. The company claims the chicken is marinated for up to seventy-two hours in this secret concoction and then brushed with a tangy baste when grilling. Just three months later, Kenneth purchased the chain for $2.5 million—ten times what it was earning each year—and expanded into other Western states, growing the restaurant to around forty units strong. That's about the time the company merged with Family Restaurants, the corporation behind the El Torito and Chi-Chi's Mexican food chains.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size–2 pieces
Total servings–4
Calories per serving–195
Fat per serving–8 g

Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup V-8 juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 whole chicken, skinned and cut into 8 pieces (legs, thighs, breasts, and wings)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1 10-ounce can tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • Do This
    • Restaurant/Brand
      Koo Koo Roo
    • Instructions

      1. Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a medium bowl. Mix well.

      2. Add the chicken to the marinade and leave it for at least 24 hours. It's even better if you let the chicken marinate longer, for as much as 48 hours.

      3. Sometime before the chicken is done marinating, prepare the basting sauce by heating 1 teaspoon of the oil in a medium skillet. Saute the sliced onions until they begin to blacken a bit. Pour the onions into a medium saucepan with the other baste ingredients. Bring the mixture to a full boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove it from heat. When cool, cover the baste and chill until it's needed.

      4. When you are ready to cook the chicken, fire up your grill to medium heat. Grill the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes, then turn it over and grill for another 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the chicken over once more and brush the top with the baste. Grill for another 5 to 6 minutes, then turn the chicken over again, baste the other side, and cook it until it's done—around 20 to 24 minutes total cooking time that will vary from piece to piece. You should see a few charred black spots on the surface of the chicken, but don't let it burn.

      Serves 4.

Average rating:

Score: 5.00. Votes: 4
Rating of votes (4)
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Michael Rodgers
Jul 30, 2019, 18:27

I never ate at a Koo Koo Roo's, but I've made this recipe several times for family and friends. It is quite good! I use whole cut up chickens or chicken leg quarters or all thighs and it comes out delicious. I've been told it is the "best chicken I've ever eaten" several times!

Nov 10, 2017, 17:25

Apple cider ain't in it apple cider ain't in it maybe the basting sauce but not the marinade and that's a fact

I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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