Answer: Nothing would make for a more epic weekend.
Well… This is EXACTLY what transpired a few weeks ago. My kiddos, a couple friends & Your’s Truly decided to pack up our Backyard BBQ Party & go MOBILE!! We picked up enough grub at the market to feed a moderately-sized community of Sumo Wrestlers & dropped by the Kentwood Fire Department, surprising the Firemen with an afternoon FEAST of Chicken, Grilled Corn on the Cob, all the Fixins, Sides & Chocolate Chip Cookies!
1. Most fantastic Backyard BBQ Ever. EVER. 2. Probably some of the best dudes I’ve ever grilled alongside – Looking forward to brews with my new friends (OFF-hours, of course). 3. Sumo Wrestlers have nothing on these hungry fellas – That Chicken was taken behind the Woodshed… Remaining were bones, select scraps & a slathering of BBQ Sauce unintentionally strewn across several areas of my face.
This recipe was perfect for the occasion – Bold & fearless (much like my brave fire-taming / life-saving friends at the fire department), combining flavors that are dynamic, a touch smoky, a little sweet, and all together perfect for your Backyard BBQ. We begin with succulent, trimmed legs of chicken, massaged with a bold, spicy dry rub, and finished with a tangy cherry bourbon BBQ sauce inspired by my recent travels to the awe-inspiring coastlines of rustic, Northern Michigan – Wine and Cherry Country.
Why I love this recipe:
1. Lets get this out of the way. This recipe combines 1 part Awesome + 1 part Delicious. The play on Sweet and heat is incredible – the spicy dry rub, liberally applied to the chicken, contrasts perfectly with the tart, sweet flavors of the BBQ sauce which caramelizes over the bird legs in final minutes of grilling – making for the most fantastic sticky, juicy, smoky and tender chicken!
2. The creme de la creme a la finger food = meat on a stick. OK – we’re amongst Friends here so let’s just be honest… Everyone loves meat on a stick! The means by which the chicken legs are trimmed creates the perfect meat handle, ridding the drumstick of unnecessary tendons, fat & excess skin (and calories), leaving to grill a tender & succulent BBQ chicken meat lollipop. Also, because the BBQ sauce is brushed on the meat (not on bone)… Your hands remain free of sauce and mess! Just NO guarantees for sauce left remaining on your face! Note: This method of frenching your chicken does take a few additional minutes, but well worth the while.
3. With a touch of forethought, this recipe can be taken from grill grates to guest’s plates within 25 minutes! The dry rub and BBQ Sauce are easily made in advance and both can be stored for days. It’s my recommendation to make the rub and sauce one night in advance. As well, prepare and marinate your chicken over night. Long & short… Time allocated to prep the night before = Less time huddled away in the kitchen during your BBQ Party & more time spent with family / friends.
So, whether cooking out in the backyard or on tailgate at the stadium, lay those marinated chicken legs over your hot grates, crack a 6’er of adult-flavored pops, grill boldly & make your fiesta great!
- 3 pounds chicken legs (drumsticks)
- Dry Rub
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- Tart Cherry Bourbon BBQ Sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for basting chicken
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 2 ounces honey Bourbon whiskey
- 1½ cups ketchup
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons ground mustard
- 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 cups tart cherries, pitted
- With a sharp knife, trim around the chicken legs, removing the tendons, additional fat and skin.
- Combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, thyme, salt, pepper, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and chili powder in a large bowl. Massage into the chicken, liberally coating.
- Place the chicken into an air-tight container and marinate in the refrigerator for one hour or up to overnight.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. Bring the olive oil to a gentle simmer over medium heat in a sauce pan.
- Add the garlic and onion, sauteing 3-5 minutes or until tender and fragrant.
- Add the whiskey, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, water, ground mustard, Worcestershire sauce, ginger, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce back to a simmer and add the cherries. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce thickens.
- Remove the sauce from the heat, let cool slightly and puree in a food processor until smooth. Reserve.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 20 minutes prior to grilling and let it return to room temperature.
- Preheat the grill to medium, 300-350 degrees.
- Place the chicken on the grill and close the lid, grilling 15-20 minutes, turning chicken once after 10 minutes and basting intermittently with olive oil until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.
- Turn grill to high and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, liberally brushing on the cherry Bourbon BBQ sauce until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- Remove the chicken from the grill and brush again with sauce.
- Place under a tin foil tent for 3-5 minutes, allowing the chicken to reabsorb its juices.
- Serve the chicken hot. Enjoy.