A Down-Home Meal: Barbecued Chicken and Coleslaw

This week’s challenge was to make barbecued chicken and coleslaw: a summer meal in the middle of winter. I really enjoyed this meal. It was comfort food with a down-home feel, and it brought a little sunshine to all this winter weather we’ve been having. I think everyone else at the table liked it too. Even my toddler asked for a little of everything on his plate, and though he didn’t eat very much, that is still an improvement.


I have made the coleslaw recipe many times before, but this was an opportunity to really perfect it, and I think this was the best batch I have ever made. I’ll post that recipe tomorrow. (How come it is impossible to make coleslaw except in prodigious batches? I have some ideas for what to do with the leftovers, which I’ll also post.)

But let’s talk about the barbecue. I have never made barbecue sauce before, and I didn’t really know how to start. So I picked up How to Cook Everything, of course. Mark Bittman’s recipe for barbecue sauce begins with 2 cups of ketchup, which I thought might be overwhelmingly sweet. I consulted a few other recipes and Bittman’s long list of variations, and finally decided on a base combination of 1 part ketchup, 1 part tomato paste, 1 part hoisin sauce and 1 part stock to thin it out some. To this I added apple cider vinegar and bourbon (although I think dark beer would also work well).

All of the recipes I looked at called for chili powder as the main seasoning, but I decided to use Penzey’s BBQ 3000 mix instead, since I have a large bottle of it in my pantry (given to me as a gift). Chili powder can be substituted but will make the sauce a bit hotter, I think. To that I added salt, pepper, toasted onion powder and garlic powder.

The sauce tasted good, but it was still very sweet and lacked a certain depth. I consulted all the recipes again and decided to throw in a couple of spoonfuls of mustard (I used Coleman’s yellow) and Worcestershire sauce. That was better, but one last finishing touch was required. A few dashes of Tabasco did the job nicely. I let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes to meld the flavors.

My husband really liked this sauce, so I consider it a big success for my first attempt. He wants me to make it the standard for barbecue sauce in our house.

I dug up some old instructions for oven-barbecuing chicken, which basically consists of browning the chicken first, then slathering it with sauce and baking it until done. A quick broil at the end adds some “char.” I used bone-in, skin-on breasts, so if you add thighs or legs, your cooking time may be longer.

To serve, I pulled chicken off the bone and plated alongside the coleslaw and the traditional white roll. I reserved about half the sauce for dipping.

Oven-Barbecued Chicken

Serves: 2 but this recipe probably makes enough sauce for 4 large pieces of chicken

For the sauce, combine:

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • ½ cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • ½ cup bourbon (or substitute dark beer)
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Penzey’s BBQ 3000 mix (or substitute 1 tablespoon chili powder or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon toasted onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1-2 dashes Tabasco

Bring to a simmer. Let simmer over low, uncovered, 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large, oven-proof skillet, drizzle 2 bone-in chicken breasts with a little olive oil, and sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper. Brown both sides over medium-high and remove from the heat.

Pour about half of the sauce into a bowl. Reserve the remainder and keep warm on low heat, covered. Slather the chicken thickly on both sides with the sauce. Bake until the chicken is almost cooked through, turning and re-basting as needed. This can take 20 minutes or more, depending on the size of the chicken pieces.

When the chicken is almost done, turn on the broiler and cook a further 5 minutes, turning once. Serve with the reserved sauce on the side.

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12 thoughts on “A Down-Home Meal: Barbecued Chicken and Coleslaw

  1. Marty 19 January 2011 at 5:15 pm

    You’re 2 for 2 on the challenges. This was a great meal.

  2. Erika 20 January 2011 at 8:32 am

    Yum, I can’t wait to try it! I’ve always wanted to make my own bbq sauce since we have only found one store-bought type that we like. (And we have only found it in grocery stores 500 miles from our home!!) We don’t use a lot of bbq sauce, probably because of the scarcity of our supply. I’d love to try your recipe and maybe it’ll be a hit with the husband and we can start using it more often. For us it is a summer meal but with the oven-baked method, I’d love to get it in the rotation for the winter too. Thanks!

  3. Shannon 20 January 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Erika- Hope you like it. Let me know if you have any suggestions or feedback!

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