Program Notes: I spotted a new BBQ sauce recipe and technique that I wanted to try: this one here. The centerpiece of our 4th of July dinner was 7 of the biggest, grass-fed chicken thighs that you’ve ever seen (bone in and skin on, thank you very much), and the composer – yours truly – wanted to do ’em up right.
Overture: We begin with a conflict. Unfortunately, the linked recipe‘s key ingredients, namely, whiskey and peach preserves, were not to be found in my pantry, on my counter, or strangely, my bedside table (Pioneer Woman’s words, not mine). I did, however, have dark rum and apricot-rum jam. What ensues is, quite simply, variations on a theme: booze and jam iterations of a dance in the sweet and sour and savory and salty. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you boozy, jammy bbq sauce.
1st Movement: The Sauce
Combine in saucepan over medium-low heat:
– 1 cup brown sugar
– generous 1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from those little cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
– 1/2 cup dark rum
– 1/4 cup soy sauce (I use gluten-free Tamari)
– 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons ketchup
– 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 teaspoon ground mustard
– sprinkle of freshly ground pepper
Allow to simmer 20-30 minutes. Cool until ready to use, or rallentendo gently into the second movement…
2nd Movement: The Chicken
Heat a bit of your oil/butter/lard of preference in a heavy, deep crock, such as a dutch oven. When it’s hot, sear your chicken thighs (skin side down first) a few at a time until nicely browned on both sides. Watch for splattering oil and chicken juices! Transfer to plate to cool.
3rd Movement: Sauce Meets Chicken
Finish the sauce by sauteeing some diced onion in the chicken fat/oil. As they begin to turn golden brown, add a splash of dark rum. The theme from the first movement appears (pour in the BBQ sauce). Add a good half jar of apricot-rum jam (or plain apricot, or peach, or blackberry, or marmalade, or elderberry, or…) and another smashed garlic clove, just for good measure. Bring to a gentle simmer. Return the chicken thighs to the pot, cover with heavy lid, and bake in 300F oven for about 90 minutes. Give the pot a stir before serving.
*Note: Yes, you could have added the jam to the first step. I don’t see any reason why that would be a problem. I would probably just add it at the end and don’t cook too long, so it doesn’t get all sticky messy in your saucepan. You could also grill your chicken and baste with the sauce multiple times.
Sticky. Sweet. Savory. And oh-so American. Bravissimo!
Encore: Pair lovingly with grilled hot dogs (with all the fixin’s), macaroni and cheese, and sauteed green beans.
Oh, say does that sauce-dripping chicken yet wait, for the stab of the fork, and the devouring of the plate?