Oftentimes, I find an simple-looking recipe, tag it for a weeknight on sight, and go about my business. Come the weeknight in question, I gather up my ingredients only to realize upon reading the recipe that the recipe has some weird quirks that make it not quite so simple. It might be lots of prep (endless chopping, anyone?), or a sauce that needs a bit too much attention at an hour when my children are both seemingly losing their minds, or, worst of all, the use of more than the absolute minimum requirement of pots and pans. Recipes that sound simple, but aren’t, are the bane of my weeknight existence. Sure, there’s a place for involved, slow, layered recipes. Tuesday night is not that place.
This recipe, on the other hand, was kind of the opposite. When I read through the recipe, I thought, “Wow. There’s a lot going on there. Bacon Paste? Bourbon BBQ sauce?” But it sounded so good that I decided to throw caution to the wind I give it a whirl. And I was kind of amazed by how simple it was. It’s basically marinated chicken skewers. Instead of mixing up a marinade, you blend up some bacon and spices in your food processor. And bonus, unlike a marinade, there’s no waiting. You just slather on that bacon paste, put your kebabs on a grill pan, and brush on some bbq sauce, homemade or otherwise. Now, I had made some BBQ sauce, which was also very easy, but if you want to keep it super simple, just mix some bourbon into your favorite store-bought sauce.
But, guys, this sauce. It’s so good. I’m kind of picky about BBQ sauce. I don’t like it too sweet, but also not too spicy. A little smoky, but with none of that fake liquid-smoke business. Sticky, not junky with corn syrup. It’s hard to find a good BBQ sauce these days. But this is it- this sauce is everything I like in BBQ sauce. And it’s super simple- dump everything in a pot, let it simmer away for about an hour, and voilá! The best little BBQ sauce you’ll ever have.
Anyway, between the bacon, the bourbon, the tender chunks of chicken, this recipe is every bit as good as it sounds. Actually, it’s better. The chicken doesn’t dry out, (can I get a, “What what!” for chicken thighs?!) and stays super flavorful, because, you know… it’s coated in bacon paste. The bacon-y goodness coats the chicken and flavors it as it cooks, giving it crispy little bits around the edges. After you slather on the sauce, those little bits wind up both crispy and sticky, and also sweet and smoky. With a little more sauce to dip these amazing skewers in, they make an awesome appetizer, or if you’re us, dinner. Pretty good for a Tuesday, if you ask me.
adapted from this recipe
If you don't have the wherewithal to make the sauce from scratch, no worries- just substitute 1 3/4 cup store-bought sauce + 1/4 cup bourbon mixed together, and get on with your business.
- 2 cups bourbon bbq sauce (recipe below)
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" pieces
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 6 slices raw bacon, cut into small pieces
Light the grill and heat to medium-high, or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
In a food processor, combine the kosher salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dark brown sugar, smoked paprika, and bacon. Pulse until completely smooth.
Put the chicken thigh pieces in a bowl and then rub with the bacon paste. Once well-coated, thread the chicken thigh pieces onto skewers (pre-soaked, if they're wooden).
Place the kebabs on the preheated grill or pan. Cook for about 5 minutes per side.
Brush the kebabs with the bourbon barbecue sauce and cook for an additional minute or two on each side.
Serve with the remaining BBQ sauce.
This will make more sauce than you need for the skewers, but this is a wonderful sauce for just about anything, and will keep in the fridge for weeks in an airtight jar.
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons molasses
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Add all ingredients to a saucepan, whisk to combine, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to simmer and allow to simmer for 45 minutes-1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and allow to cool before storing it in the fridge.