Barbecue chicken is an American classic of summertime cooking. Sauce variations abound, of course. In my latest favorite rendition of a previous and abiding favorite, an adaptation of the American classic based on Heinz tomato ketchup and Wesson oil, vegetable oil is swapped for extra virgin olive oil, ballpark mustard is replaced with Dijon, molasses adds deep brown sweet color and flavor; and chili flakes spice it up. The resulting all-American sauce is also perfect for that other summer favorite, bbq’d spare ribs. And, it freezes beautifully for later in the year when you might want the romance of a summer bbq, this time done inside in the oven or under the broiler. One cup of sauce suffices to coat and baste a whole, cut up chicken, with a little left to reheat and dab on at the table.
Whatever the sauce choice, to get perfectly done, moist meat without any pink inside, the skin lightly charred and crispy outside, and the pieces succulent from top to bottom takes some (not difficult) fussing over, turning the pieces often to allow charring and prevent scorching, and that’s part of the fun.
Makes 3 cups
1/4 cup extra virgin olive or vegetable oil
1 medium yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 cup tomato ketchup
1 cup water
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce (see)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
1 organic chicken, cut up into 6 serving pieces
1 cup BBQ Sauce
1. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook slowly until wilted, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a bare simmer and cook, stirring once or twice, until thick and deep brown-red in color, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool before using. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
3. To cook the chicken, heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-hot.