A tangy, tomatoey, molasses-laced sauce is the indisputable star of traditional American barbecued chicken. The brick-hued sauce should be mopped on as the chicken cooks, resulting in a beautifully browned (not charred) exterior surrounding moist, evenly cooked meat. Applying the sauce in coats and turning the chicken encouraged the sauce to thicken and caramelize.
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (split breasts cut in half, drumsticks, and/or thighs)
1 (13 by 9-inch) disposable aluminum roasting pan (if using charcoal)
Classic Barbecue Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
This sauce can be used on just about anything. For a thinner, smoother texture, strain the sauce after it has finished cooking.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/4 cups ketchup
6 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and pinch salt and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Whisk in ketchup, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire and mustard. Bring sauce to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 2 cups, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Combine salt, pepper, and cayenne in bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and rub with seasoning mixture.
For a charcoal grill, open bottom vent completely and place disposable pan on one side of grill. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over other side of grill. Heat grill until hot.
For a gas grill, turn all burners to high, cover, , about 15 minutes. (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature around 350 F.) Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chicken, skin side down, on cooler side of grill. Cover and cook until chicken begins to brown, 30 to 35 minutes.
Slide chicken into single line between hotter and cooler sides of grill. Cook uncovered, flipping chicken and brushing with sauce, until sticky, about 20 minutes.
Slide chicken to hotter side of grill and cook, uncovered, flipping and brushing with remaining sauce, until well glazed.
Remove pieces from grill as they reach correct temperature.) Transfer chicken to serving dish, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve.
Pic: (Carl Tremblay/America’s Test Kitchen via AP)