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Bourbon-Bacon BBQ Chicken Recipe

Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Crisping up bacon, cooking onions and garlic in the fat, and adding a shot of bourbon gives this barbecue sauce a smoky base. Slather it on whatever kind of chicken you like and grill until the sauce has turned into a thick, dark shellac. Serve with a Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad to round out your summertime meal.

Special equipment: You’ll need a pastry brush or barbecue basting brush for this recipe.

Game plan: You can make the sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

  • 1/2 cup small-dice bacon (about 3 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion (about 1/2 small onion)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons dark or robust molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  1. Place the bacon in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a small bowl; set aside. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the onion to the pan, and cook it in the bacon fat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds.
  2. Whisk in the remaining measured ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the reserved bacon, increase the heat to medium high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly and holds a line on the back of a wooden spoon when you drag a finger through it, about 25 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Equally divide the sauce between 2 small bowls and set it aside to cool to room temperature (1 bowl will be for serving, the other for brushing onto the chicken while it cooks on the grill).
  3. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium (about 350°F to 450°F). Meanwhile, if you’re using chicken breasts (either boneless or bone-in), cut them in half crosswise. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and place on a baking sheet. Coat them all over with the oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. When the grill is ready, place the chicken on it (skin-side down if using skin-on), cover the grill, and cook until grill marks appear on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces, cover the grill, and cook until grill marks appear on the second side, about 5 minutes more.
  5. Flip the chicken again and generously brush the pieces using the bowl of sauce set aside for the chicken. Cover the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Flip and brush the chicken, and then continue to flip and brush every 5 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest piece reads 160°F to 165°F and the meat near the bone is no longer pink, about 10 to 15 minutes more (about 25 to 30 minutes total cooking time). Remove the chicken to a clean serving platter and pass the remaining bowl of barbecue sauce on the side.

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