Weeknight Cooking: Grilled Chicken with Cherry Cola BBQ Sauce REDUX

When this month’s Magazine of the Month, the July 2008 edition of Bon Appetit, hit the shelves, CC and I both looked inside and zeroed in on the same page: Mixed Grill with Cherry Cola BBQ Sauce.

Now there are many, many ways in which CC and I differ in our cooking techniques. The biggest one to note in this case is CC actually likes to spend hours of elaborate cooking while I like to simplify.

Case in point, I have turned the Mixed Grill with Cherry Cola BBQ Sauce recipe into a Weeknight Cooking segment! Behold: the REDUX!

And now for the confessional portion of this post. I have a guilty pleasure in the kitchen. It’s probably not something I should admit to, but I just can’t help myself. When I want a meal out quickly, and it involves grilling meat, there is one man that I turn to, one who never fails, one who is a lean, mean, grilling machine.

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Oh, George. You rock my world.

I love my Foreman grill. In fact, I’m thinking about starting a whole George Foreman category for this site – that’s how much I love it.

For my birthday last year, I bought myself one of the new “G5 Next Grilleration” grills with 5 removable plates. I love it. The plates can be popped right off and tossed into the dishwasher. If you use a George Foreman, something with removable plates is the deal.

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The only thing I’m not sold on is the whole “5 plates” that it came with. Truth be told, I only use the two grilling plates so I think I would have been just as happy with a cheaper model. To anyone who wants to pick up an affordable George, there’s a Next Grilleration 4-Burger Grill with Removable Plates available on amazon.com for only $40 plus tax and shipping. (The link goes to the grill on the amazon.com page if you’re interested.) If you want your George to be a little more classy in the “Platinum” look, you’re going to have to shell out $75. In my opinion, do your wallet a favor and settle for white – this way you can pay more for good food.

I wish I had taken more pictures of this and I’m not sure why I didn’t. Sorry. Since I was only cooking for two, I pulled out two boneless skinless chicken breasts and thawed them. While they were thawing, I put together the BBQ sauce. This is what takes the longest, because it will need time to simmer in the pot and thicken.

Cherry Cola BBQ Sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 12-ounce bottles (ketchup-style) chili sauce
1 12- to 13-ounce jar cherry preserves or jam
1 cup cherry cola (regular, not diet)
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon (or more) hot pepper sauce

The directions from epicurious.com – it’s pretty straightforward:

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Stir in chili sauce, preserves, cherry cola, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until reduced to 4 cups, stirring often to prevent scorching, about 50 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more hot pepper sauce, if desired. Transfer to bowl and cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Basically sauté the onions and garlic, then toss in the rest of the ingredients except for the hot pepper sauce, then stir it up and simmer until it is a nice saucy thickness – about an hour.

I forgot the hot pepper sauce, but it was still good. This sauce is pretty forgiving in terms of eyeballing ingredients and adding more or less of the ingredients you like. I eyeballed the jam, adding a little more than it called for. Go ahead and play around with it. Also, because I was making sauce for only two chicken breasts, I cut the sauce in half. That needs to simmer for about an hour, and it will get a nice thick texture.

I debated doing the rub and in the end I went with it. I’m so glad I did – the rub is the spice and salt needed to contrast with the sweet sauce. It’s really easy, too.

In a small tupperware container, I mixed together the following spices for the rub:

Spice rub:
2 tablespoons smoked paprika or hot smoked Spanish paprika
2 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In hindsight, this was a lot of rub for only two chicken breasts. Next time I will cut the spices in half.

After my chicken thawed, I patted it dry with some paper towels, then I set it down on a plastic cutting board. To spread the spice rub on, I just took a little bit of it in my fingers, sprinkled it on the chicken, and then rubbed it around. The spice rub coated the chicken nicely and stuck on there just fine. So if you’re a first time spice rubber (okay, that came out a little weirder than I intended) never fear – the spices will stick, even though you’ve patted your chicken dry.

I then threw the chicken breasts on my George, which was set for medium. The lid was closed so I could get the spicy flavors of the rub into the chicken first. After about 5 minutes, I opened the lid and started basting with the sauce. The lid stayed open after that, and both sides got basted so it did get slightly messy – but that’s what the drip pan and dishwasher safe plates are for! As long as you aren’t glopping it on it won’t be a huge disaster – so don’t go crazy!

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So there it is on the George, cooking away. Periodically we would flip them over and baste with a little more sauce, but after the sauce starts going on, the chicken only takes another 10 – 15 minutes more to cook.

I was really, really pleased with the outcome. The mess the whole dish makes is minimal and, with clean up, there’s not a lot of effort going on here. To make it feel even more like an outdoor event, we took our meals to the patio and ate them with a side of sweet corn and leftover cherry soda. Now that I’m looking at the picture, I think cornbread would have rocked with it. Hrm. Next time…

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It’s (pseudo) BBQ, ya’ll!

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One response to “Weeknight Cooking: Grilled Chicken with Cherry Cola BBQ Sauce REDUX

  1. Yesterday when I posted this, the white Foreman with removable plates was on sale for $39.99. Today it’s back up to $80 and the black model is on sale for $40. Sounds like you may need to head over to amazon.com and type in “George Foreman removable plates” to see which color is getting the cheap deal for the day.

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