Whole Grilled Chicken with Bourbon BBQ Sauce

By • July 21, 2016 0 Comments

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Author Notes: This chicken is slow grilled for even cooking and slathered with a sauce that’s sharp from grated red onions, bold with bourbon, and sweet from molasses. The BBQ recipe all started with the realization that I had no brown sugar. But as Bob Ross says, there are no mistakes, there are only happy accidents. That bottle of molasses that I brought with me from Chicago over 3 years ago finally made a debut. This was the dawn of a new BBQ in my life. I found that molasses thickens the sauce while adding a fuller sweetness. Later the sauce evolved into including red onions, balsamic, and bourbon, making the best BBQ quartet.

Choosing to grill a chicken whole means you’re going to look like a grill master when you present that bird, but really you get to be lazy and just enjoy being outside. Think about it: you only have to flip one thing. And you’re only going to flip that twice.

If the ensuing crunches from butterflying a chicken grosses you out, just ask your butcher to do it for you. If you fancy yourself a butcher, you can use kitchen shears to cut through the back. Then flip the bird and press down on the breast to flatten it out. Rinse out the inside and cut off any loose fat.
Just Me and The Clams


Serves 4

  • 1 roasting chicken, butterflied
  • 2 small onions, grated
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  1. Salt and pepper your bird liberally. Light the grill so that you have one hot side and one cool. I leave one burner completely off, with the other on medium heat. Place the bird, breast up, on the cool side. Cover the grill and let it be for about 45 minutes (depending on how hot your grill is).
  2. Meanwhile you can start the sauce. Mix all the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally for at least a half hour (or until the desired thickness). The sauce can be made ahead.
  3. Once the chicken is at 140F, flip it skin side down for about 10 minutes to crisp it up. Then carefully turn it back onto its back. This is all done on the cool side of the grill. Don’t stress out if some of the skin breaks, you’re going to layer sauce on it now. Paint a thin layer onto the chicken, and try to get it in all the little nooks and crannies. Cover the grill. Continue doing this every 5 minutes or so (when the bbq layer has dried) until the chicken reaches 160F. This could take 20-30 minutes depending on your heat and bird size.
  4. Be sure to present your chicken whole when serving.

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