Fastest Barbecued Chicken

My Aunt Trish has always been one of my favorite relatives.  She and my Uncle Rick never had kids of their own – unless you count their dearly departed beagle, Mugsy – but they loved to spoil their nieces and nephews, which was always okay by me.

We would only see them once a summer, when my parents would load up the wood-paneled Vista Cruiser for our annual road trip from our home in Minnesota to Ohio, where most of our relatives lived.  Quality time in the family truckster with two bothersome brothers and a smelly, yet loveable basset hound……good times!

To this day, when I hear Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart, Don’t Leave Me This Way, or Don’t… Stop… Thinkin’abouttomorrow, I’m reminded of those family vacations.  I’m convinced that my lifelong obsession with pop lyrics is a direct result of road trips in the 70’s.

These adventures across the upper midwest seemed to take FOR. EVER.  But after 15 hours or so, we’d roll into my aunt and uncle’s driveway, where they’d greet us with bear hugs and kisses and the usual “wow, you’ve gotten tall!” and we would be thrilled to at last be sprung from the car.

I would be remiss if didn’t mention that my aunt’s signature scent has always been an amazing combination of Estee Lauder’s Cinnabar perfume, Dentyne gum, and gin & tonics.  I loved that smell.

But an even better smell would come from their grill – my aunt’s nearly famous barbecued chicken – one of my all time favorite meals as a kid.  She would serve piping hot baked potatoes with butter and sour cream, and a cool and crunchy tossed salad alongside.  I’ll never forget that menu as long as I live!

I’ll never master her recipe either, but I’ve been making this one for a few years now.  Every time I do, I flash back to those steamy summer evenings of my childhood.  Sticky saucy fingers and faces, bug spray and fireflies, and the warm feeling from being reunited with family –-

…with 70’s soundtrack.  Have a great long weekend, everyone!

Serves:  4 -6

6 T. brown sugar
1 T. chili powder
2 t. dry mustard
Kosher salt
10 skinless boneless chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry **see note**
¾ c. ketchup (Heinz is on sale this week, 9/1/10 to 9/7/10)
¼ c. soy sauce
¼ c. cider vinegar
1 T. Dijon mustard
½ t. Tabasco sauce, or more to taste

Heat a grill to between medium and medium high.

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar with the chili powder, dry mustard, and 1 tablespoon of salt.  Spread the chicken thighs on a large baking sheet and rub the spice mixture all over them.

In a small saucepan, whisk the remaining 4 tablespoons of brown sugar with the ketchup, soy sauce, cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard; bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes to dissolve the sugar and blend the flavors.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Taste and add a pinch of salt if needed.  Stir in the Tabasco, adding more to taste.

Spread the chicken out on the grill.  Cover and cook on the first side until they turn a deep reddish brown and begin to blacken in places, 4 – 5 minutes.  Flip the chicken and continue to cook on the second side until they’re firm, deeply colored, 3 – 4 minutes.  Using a brush, dab a generous amount of sauce over the top of the chicken; cook 1 minute.  Flip, slather the other side with sauce, cook for 1 minute, and remove from the heat.

** NOTE **
My aunt always did a whole, cut up chicken.  I don’t mind admitting to you that I am terrible at cooking chicken that way.  I mess it up every time.

Also, I usually use all thighs for this recipe, but Sendik’s Boneless / Skinless Breasts are on sale this week, and you could use a combination of the two if you like.  Pictured above are five breasts;  I like to pound them a bit to even out their thickness before I hit them with the spice mixture.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | September 3rd, 2010