A Southern Chicken & Bourbon Mustard BBQ Sauce

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I am not sure why I have a penchant for mustard-based barbecue sauce but there is something about the tangy, bold nature of a sauce with a mustard backbone that acts as a defibrillator for my palate.   When I was posed with the challenge of creating a barbecue sauce utilizing Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, I knew I would be bypassing the ketchup and reaching instead for the jar of yellow mustard in my fridge.

This was my first time dipping my toe in the world of barbecue and seeing as I live in a condo and do not have a grill, I wasn’t quite sure where to begin.  Chef Levon Wallace of Proof on Main offered me loads of expert advice and the result was a beautifully roasted, impossibly juicy chicken bathed in a spicy and bright mustard sauce, one that took me three tries to finally get right.

In keeping with what I’ve found in most recipes, creating the sauce was all about layering flavors and the Four Roses Small Batch gave me a fantastic profile with which to work.

This bourbon blend brings strong notes of spice which are quickly quelled by a light sweetness and pleasant viscosity.  Brought to a boil with shallots, garlic and jalapeño, any bite from the alcohol is removed, the base flavors remaining and enhanced, pacifying the abrasive nature of the mustard and brightening the notes given by the cumin and red pepper flakes.

Local Kentucky sorghum and brown sugar, a near must for any barbecue sauce, match the natural sweetness of the bourbon nose-to-nose, finishing out a beautifully flavored, bourbon inspired sauce.  At Levon’s advice, I had brined the chicken overnight to ensure the oven didn’t take away any of the natural juices.  After roasting for a bit until almost cooked through, the sauce is drenched over the chicken and baked on for the last few minutes of cooking time, sealing in the flavor and finishing off some of the best chicken I’ve ever cooked at home.

I tip my hat to those who have spent years perfecting the craft of barbecue.  It is a complicated and delicious culinary road to travel and I look forward to exploring the path, my bottle of bourbon in hand.

 

Chef Levon’s first piece of advice to me was to brine my chicken.  I had always thought brines were reserved for Thanksgiving turkeys and other special occasion preparations.  It was as simple as throwing together a marinade and goodness it made all the difference in the texture and flavor of the chicken.  You can flavor the brine as complexly as you’d like.

I kept mine simple and mixed the following in a very large bowl: eight cups of warm water, one quarter cup kosher salt plus an additional eighth of a cup, one quarter cup sugar plus an additional eighth of a cup, and one tbs red pepper flakes. Stir until all of the salt and sugar dissolves in the water.  Allow to cool to room temperature and then add the chicken quarters (the leg and thigh of the chicken, in one piece), ensuring they are completely submerged.  Refrigerate for six to 24 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and remove the chicken from the brine.  Pat dry and place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Season with kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the meat is nearly cooked through and the skin is beginning to brown and become slightly crisp (if you use a meat thermometer you are looking for a temperature of 140).

While the chicken is roasting make the sauce!  You can certainly make this sauce ahead of time.  It will last in the fridge for up to two weeks.  Begin by warming a medium pot over medium heat.

Add one tbs of olive oil and sauté the following: one jalapeño, minced, and one third cup of chopped onions.  Sauté until the vegetables become tender and the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add two cloves of garlic, finely minced, to the mix and stir for one minute until fragrant.  Now it is time for the piece de resistance: the Four Roses Small Batch.  Keeping the heat on medium, slowly add one cup of Four Roses to the pot.  This may flame up a bit, which is fine.  It is just the alcohol burning off.  Just be sure to go slowly and keep your face away from the pot.

Allow the bourbon to deglaze the pot, stirring and scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon.  Next up: the mustard!  Add one cup good quality yellow mustard to the Four Roses mixture, along with two tsp good quality dijon mustard.

Continue by adding the following: one half cup apple cider vinegar, one tsp ground cumin, one quarter tsp red pepper flakes, one tbs local Kentucky sorghum (local honey is a good substitute), two tbs brown sugar, one tsp Worcestershire sauce (Bourbon Barrel Foods’s Worcestershire sauce is my favorite), and one half tsp kosher salt.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil.

Once the sauce is boiling, drop the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for twenty minutes, reducing the sauce and helping the flavors meld and concentrate.  Next, remove from the heat and strain the sauce through a fine sieve, separating out the jalapeño and onion and leaving you with a smooth, delicious barbecue sauce!

After the chicken has cooked for 35-40 minutes, remove from the oven and brush liberally with the bourbon-mustard sauce.  Drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees and put the chicken back in to roast for an additional 15 minutes.  The meat will finish cooking and the sauce will begin to set.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for five to 10 minutes.  Serve along with additional bourbon-mustard on the side.  Enjoy!

Chicken to Serve Two, Recipe Yields One Cup of Sauce

The Chicken

  • two chicken quarters
  • eight cups warm water
  • one quarter cup kosher salt, plus an additional one eighth cup
  • one quarter cup sugar, plus an additional one eighth cup
  • one tbs red pepper flakes
  • one tsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper for seasoning

Four Roses Bourbon-Mustard Sauce

  • one jalapeño, minced
  • one third cup chopped onion
  • two cloves garlic, finely minced
  • one cup Four Roses Small Batch bourbon
  • one cup good quality yellow mustard
  • two tsp good quality dijon mustard
  • one half cup apple cider vinegar
  • one tsp ground cumin
  • one quarter tsp red pepper flakes
  • one tbs local Kentucky sorghum (local honey is a good substitute)
  • two tbs brown sugar
  • one tsp Worcestershire sauce (Bourbon Barrel Foods’s Worcestershire sauce is my favorite)
  • one half tsp kosher salt

I had always thought brines were reserved for Thanksgiving turkeys and other special occasion preparations.  It was as simple as throwing together a marinade and goodness it made all the difference in the texture and flavor of the chicken.

You can flavor the brine as complexly as you’d like.  I kept mine simple and mixed the following in a very large bowl: eight cups of warm water, one quarter cup kosher salt plus an additional eighth of a cup, one quarter cup sugar plus an additional eighth of a cup, and one tbs red pepper flakes. Stir until all of the salt and sugar dissolves in the water.  Allow to cool to room temperature and then add the chicken quarters (the leg and thigh of the chicken, in one piece), ensuring they are completely submerged.  Refrigerate for six to 24 hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and remove the chicken from the brine.  Pat dry and place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Season with kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the meat is nearly cooked through and the skin is beginning to brown and become slightly crisp (if you use a meat thermometer you are looking for a temperature of 140).
While the chicken is roasting make the sauce!  You can certainly make this sauce ahead of time.  It will last in the fridge for up to two weeks.  Begin by warming a medium pot over medium heat.  Add one tbs of olive oil and sauté the following: one jalapeño, minced, and one third cup of chopped onions.  Sauté until the vegetables become tender and the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add two cloves of garlic, finely minced, to the mix and stir for one minute until fragrant.  Now it is time for the piece de resistance: the Four Roses Small Batch.  Keeping the heat on medium, slowly add one cup of Four Roses to the pot.  This may flame up a bit, which is fine.  It is just the alcohol burning off.  Just be sure to go slowly and keep your face away from the pot.
Allow the bourbon to deglaze the pot, stirring and scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon.  Next up: the mustard!  Add one cup good quality yellow mustard to the Four Roses mixture, along with two tsp good quality dijon mustard.  Continue by adding the following: one half cup apple cider vinegar, one tsp ground cumin, one quarter tsp red pepper flakes, one tbs local Kentucky sorghum (local honey is a good substitute), two tbs brown sugar, one tsp Worcestershire sauce (Bourbon Barrel Foods’s Worcestershire sauce is my favorite), and one half tsp kosher salt.

Stir to combine and bring to a boil.  Once the sauce is boiling, drop the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for twenty minutes, reducing the sauce and helping the flavors meld and concentrate.  Next, remove from the heat and strain the sauce through a fine sieve, separating out the jalapeño and onion and leaving you with a smooth, delicious barbecue sauce!
After the chicken has cooked for 35-40 minutes, remove from the oven and brush liberally with the bourbon-mustard sauce.  Drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees and put the chicken back in to roast for an additional 15 minutes.  The meat will finish cooking and the sauce will begin to set.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for five to 10 minutes.  Serve along with additional bourbon-mustard on the side.  Enjoy!