All-American BBQ Chicken on the Grill

Ingredients for the Brine:

3 1/2 quarts water
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled but smashed with a knife
4 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
12 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless or bone-in


Put all the ingredients in one (or two) bowls, add the chicken and marinate in the fridge for 15 minutes to 6 hours, depending on how much time you have. Remove from brine, blot with paper towels and get ready to grill! (NB: You can skip this step but the chicken will lack the tender, flavorful, moist-tender texture of brined chicken).

Ingredients for BBQ Sauce:

1 TBSP vegetable oil
1 TBSP butter (“Mom” prefers organic)
1 slice bacon, chopped into large chunks (optional)
1/2 bunch thyme
1/2 yellow onion, diced fine
1 jalapeno pepper, diced fine, ribs and seeds removed (that’s where the super spice lives so leave it in if you can take the heat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup bourbon
1 TBSP lemon juice
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 TBSP apple vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
pepper, to taste


Method for BBQ Sauce:

One option is just using store-bought if you’re pressed for time. If not, throw butter and oil in small saucepan, add bacon, thyme and cook over medium until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Add onions, pepper, garlic and cook on low until translucent. You don’t want any color here.

Remove pan from heat. Add the bourbon. Put back on heat and slowly bring to boil. Allow bourbon to cook down for 5 minutes. Add the other ingredients and stir, simmer and then cook on low for about 20 minutes. Taste occasionally and adjust seasoning.

Method for grilling boneless, skinless chicken:

Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium heat. Lightly oil the grill with oiled paper towels (use a large wad and mind the heat). Take dried off chicken and arrange on grill. Cook for about 8 minutes on each side. For the last few minutes of cooking, feel free to baste the chicken with BBQ sauce. This can be messy, so skip it if you like a clean grill. Serve with plenty of BBQ sauce.

Method for grilling bone-in chicken breasts:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Prep grill pan / outdoor grill as above and grill for 10 minutes, flipping once. Transfer to cookie sheet and cook for 15 minutes in oven. Remove and wollop with sauce. Return to finish cooking, about 20 more minutes. Serve with more sauce.

Makes 12 servings.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Sunday in the Kitchen. For more recipes and inspiration, sign up to receive their newsletter!*