Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bourbon Molasses Chicken Drumsticks

The last two years we have hosted the annual 'Friends Cottage Weekend' we have been blessed with perfect weather. We knew our luck would change eventually. Turns out, this was the year. Wet, wetter and wettest would be the best way to describe our Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (That's not totally fair. It began to clear up Sunday as we pulled away from the cottage. Of course.) All of the signs that our good weather streak was about to be broken were there. The one I noticed in particular was the weather forecast. All was not lost though. The kids still went outside and played baseball. The canoe was taken for a spin around the lake. And we still managed to BBQ.

The more that I have pushed myself to experiment in the kitchen the less squeamish I have become about handling things like raw meat and/or poultry. However the thought of seasoning a dozen chicken drumsticks destined for the grill by rubbing a mixture of salt and pepper under their lacked appeal. So I conscripted by favourite sous-chef James to do the icky part for me. Okay. I may also have asked him to, you know, actually BBQ the chicken as well. But I did make the sauce, which was gorgeous. I whipped it up in the morning and it was a cinch.

It starts, as most good things do, with butter which I was pleased to find on hand at the cottage since this was one ingredient I hadn't thought to bring myself. I always have butter on hand but I know that many households do not, opting instead for various spreads that masquerade as butter. (If that sounded judgemental it might have been. A little. Don't get me started on Miracle Whip versus mayonnaise.) So. Melt the butter, add some chopped onion and stir. I was glad I was alone in the cottage during this step because while I love the smell of onions frying in butter I'm sure others could do without that particular odour on a (wet, soggy) Saturday morning. Next dump in some ketchup, molasses and brown sugar. A bit of wooster and yellow mustard join the party next followed by black pepper and chili powder. Stir, stir, stir, heat, heat, heat then add some bourbon. Or whatever you find in the alcohol cupboard at the cottage that approximates bourbon. Like whiskey.  Done. Now, when you're actually ready to get dinner on the table you get your sous-chef to season and grill the chicken and slather on some sauce during the last few minutes of grilling. You end up with this:

I was very pleased with how this chicken turned out. I baked some chicken drumsticks a while back and while they were good they were nowhere near the same taste as these. I suspect that seasoning the chicken made a difference (thanks James!) and the sauce was certainly no slouch. You can definitely taste the molasses in this sauce but there is also a nice sweetness from the sugar, and the wooster shows up to play as well. It's quite rich. I put some aside to pass at the table but I think most people were satisfied by what came off the grill. These were definitely my favourite part of the cottage dinner table this year. Except, of course, for the people around the table.

Bourbon-Molasses Chicken Drumsticks - from Epicurious

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup minced onion
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup bourbon
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
12 chicken drumsticks

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until soft, about 6 minutes. Add next 5 ingredients, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and chili powder. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in bourbon; cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.) 

Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in bowl. Loosen skin on drumsticks. Rub salt and pepper mixture under skin without tearing skin. Cover; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Grill drumsticks until skin is crisp and juices run clear, turning to cook all sides, about 25 minutes. Transfer 1/2 cup barbecue sauce to small bowl; reserve. Brush drumsticks with remaining sauce and cook until glaze forms, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer drumsticks to platter and serve with reserved sauce.

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