This is a perfect time of year for the marriage of some of my favorite foods all in one big barbecue dish.

It’s Big Joe’s Cherry Chicken BBQ a dish that combines bing cherries in their awesome sauce, chicken, bourbon and the art of barbecue.

The recipe calls for bourbon, which is always a fan favorite in your barbecue. With the barbecue rub that will go on the chicken you can add some additional spice or stick with your favorite rub ingredients. This dish is a little sweet and the spice that you might add along with the bourbon will cut some of the sweetness so that there is a better balance to your dish.

Remember: Be careful and let that chicken cook and make sure that the skin gets nice and crispy. Once the skin is crispy you can add more of your cherry barbecue sauce.

Your kids will enjoy this dish as will the entire family. It’s summer in the Garden State and the grills are in full use. Take advantage of it with Big Joe’s Cherry Chicken BBQ. Happy eating!

You'll Need:

10 chicken thighs
2 cans of bing cherries with juice/syrup
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 the 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

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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