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Spicy Southern Barbecued Chicken

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  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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  • Kosher salt
  • Cold water
  • One 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve 1/4 cup of kosher salt in 2 quarts of cold water. Add the chicken and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat until softened. Add the paprika, ancho powder and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of water, the brown sugar and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Stir in the tomato paste and molasses and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and let cool.
  3. Light a grill or preheat the oven to 500°. Drain the chicken and pat dry, then grill over a moderately low fire, turning a few times, until just cooked through; about 25 minutes for the white meat; about 35 minutes for the dark. Alternatively, in the upper third of the oven, roast the chicken, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet, until just cooked through; 25 minutes for the white meat; 35 to 40 minutes for the dark.
  4. Set aside half of the barbecue sauce; brush the remaining sauce on the chicken. Continue grilling or roasting the chicken for 10 minutes, or until nicely glazed. Serve with the reserved sauce.

Make Ahead

The barbecue sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Suggested Pairing

The wonderful sauce for this chicken mingles mildly sweet–and–sour with spicy flavors, all of which call for a red wine with some assertiveness of its own. Try a Cabernet Franc, which is fruiter, juicer and less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon—as well as more flexible with food. (Cab Fran's hint of herbiness also works well with the tomato in the sauce.) Try one from the Loire Valley or Napa.

Contributed By Photo © Quentin Bacon Published June 2003

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