Big Joe’s Cherry BBQ Chicken
Everyone has that one recipe they are always tweaking, not because they can't get it right, but because there are so many variables that let you take the dish in a slightly different direction each time you make it. This is that recipe for me, but I think I've settled on this version as my favorite.
This is a such great BBQ chicken recipe, however it takes a bit of time to make. The dry rub needs to sit on the chicken for several hours, overnight is even better, and the cooking time takes about 6 hours so plan ahead.
That being said, the total work time is only about 25 minutes so you won't be slaving away over a hot grill, but the trick to great barbecue is the slow cooking.Trust me!
The cherry barbecue sauce that you make for this is outstanding and it will make your mouth water. I love sharing this dish with someone for the first time because I feel it is pretty unique. Give it a shot and kick off the grilling season this year with something a bit different.
10 chicken thighs
1 – 1 ½ pounds of fresh cherries (The darker the better. If cherries are out of season use the canned cherries. Bing are okay.)
2 teaspoons of honey
1 ½ bottles of BBQ sauce (I always use Butch’s Smack Your Lips Barbeque Sauce mild or pyro if you like spicy)
4 cups of dry BBQ rub (again I use Butch's here too.)
¼ cup of orange juice
½ cup of bourbon liquor (optional)
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
2 pats of butter
Clean chicken and pat dry. Trim dangling fat and make sure that chicken is very dry. Rub the thighs with the dry BBQ rub generously on both sides making sure that entire thigh is covered. Put in plastic freezer bags and let hang out in refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, overnight preferably.
How to Put it Together:
Once chicken has marinated, preheat oven to 225 degrees. Put marinated chicken on a greased rack, I use Pam or other non-stick spray. Place a tinfoil lined pan underneath to catch any drippings. Place in center rack of oven then cook for 6 hours at 225 degrees. Leave it alone.
To make the cherry barbecue sauce: Finely chop the cherries. If using canned cherries reserve about 1/8 of a cup of juice and drain remaining liquid. In a large sauce pan over medium high heat add butter, garlic and then cherries. Let garlic and cherries sauté for about three minutes. Add orange juice and stir in honey, mixing constantly with wooden spoon.
Reduce mixture and then add barbecue sauce plus remaining liquid from canned cherries. Stir, making sure that the honey doesn’t stick to the bottom of saucepan. Add bourbon and continue to cook reducing mixture. Once mixture is well-blended lower heat to simmer and stir occasionally.
Once chicken is cooked in oven, pre-heat barbecue grill getting to maximum heat. Before going to grill submerge cooked chicken into cherry barbecue sauce then placing back on rack. Once barbecue grill is hot, finish chicken on grill and cook for about three minutes each side.
Remember the purpose of finishing chicken on the grill is to sear and crisp the skin and add the barbecue flavor. Don’t leave the grill because it won’t take long at all to get the chicken perfectly barbecued.
DON”T BURN THE CHICKEN. Too much work went into this dish to burn it…be careful. Serve chicken and remaining sauce on the side. Enjoy! Serves 4 -5