Chicken's Got the White Stuff

Since summer is the indisputable time of the barbecue and since I don't have a barbecue and since Dave and his roommates were throwing a barbecue party, I leaped at the chance to try out one of my many filed-away recipes. While Dave was up to his wrists in hamburger meat (I think he put rosemary in there--it was so so good) and Kevin charred up some hot dogs and Rita deep-fried wings, I prepped a very delicious white sauce chicken recipe I found on The New York Times.

The recipe, from a Bitten column, was a two-parter: a brine in which to soak the chicken before grilling, and a white sauce for covering and dipping the chicken after grilling. Brining poultry is all the rage around Thanksgiving, but I am not such a foodie to take over a meal like that for my family, so I let my curiosity fall by the wayside until this past weekend. I always liked the idea of brining, which helps meat retain moisture and tenderness as it's grilled (what's the difference between marinating and brining? nooo idea, but one definitely sounds cooler). This recipe called for a brine soak for an hour, not a problem as it gave me full run of the kitchen before anyone else.

I prepped the sauce at that time too, and it was incredibly simple and cheap to make (everything all together, all the ingredients + 8 breasts of chicken, was about $25). With the chicken soaking and the sauce cooling in the fridge, my role was mostly done. An hour later, I popped out to the grill, had Dave toss everything on, and then sat back. After everything had cooked, it got cut in half, soaked in sauce, and set out for hungry people to devour.

And devour they did! I was really quite pleased with the final result. The chicken was incredibly succulent and tender, and even the leftover chicken several hours old had a sweet moistness that tasted fresh off the grill. The sauce really added the magic, though. Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q white Sauce, it was peppery without being overpowering, smooth without being thick and creamy. It didn't quite coat the chicken and usually left you with a puddle of sauce on your plate, the better the excuse to go back for more. I also ended up dipping my burger in the sauce and the taste was truly cinematic--fiery and tangy mixing beautifully with the robust deep flavor of the hamburger.

I was pleased with the end result and the speed with which people returned to the chicken plate and kept hearing people ask "Oooh, this is so good--what's on it?" I was crowing over my fine culinary skills when someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked what was in the sauce.

"It's a mystery!" I said, smiling.

"Didn't you just say it was a New York Times recipe, from Bitten?"

"Um... It's a mystery!" I chirped.

He did not look impressed, and I thought maybe he had a food allergy (right?) and so explained what was it was made from. Mystery destroyed, still delicious.

1 cup apple juice
1 cup water
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
8 boneless skinless chicken breasts

In a medium bowl, combine the brine ingredients and mix well.
Add the chicken breasts, making sure they are completely covered.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and wipe off the excess salt.
Preheat an outdoor grill to 400 degrees.
Place the chicken breasts on the grate directly over the heat and grill for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and firm to the touch.
The internal temperature of the chicken breasts should be 160 degrees.
Submerge each chicken breast into a bowl of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q White Sauce.
Remove from the sauce and serve.

2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and blend well.
Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

The picture is from Bitten, as people ate mine so fast I couldn't take any pictures! It did look remarkably similar, though

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