Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken

Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken | Image: Laura Messersmith

Each week I follow along with Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) and attempt to recreate one of her dishes in my tiny New York City kitchen. The catch? This is my version of cooking school and I’m making these recipes for the first time. I’ll share both my successes and um, challenges, along the way and we’ll see if I can keep up with the Contessa!

Episode: “Summer Beach BBQ”

The Set-up: Ina and friends are throwing a party on the beach!

The Menu: Barbecued Chicken, Broccoli with Garlic and Soy Sauce, Szechuan Noodles

0:51 – Ina says summer isn’t summer without grilling and I’d tend to agree!

1:13 – First up, Barbecued Chicken complete with a homemade sauce. The sauce actually started as three sauces (mustardy, Chinese-y, and tomato-y) none of them quite right until Ina mixed them all together and the rest is history.

2:20 – The list of ingredients in this sauce is incredibly long, and I assume worth it?

3:44 – Still going. I love how Ina is pretty much eye-balling the measurements, half a jar here, a quarter bottle there.

4:02 – While the sauce cooks and thickens, Ina talks about some of her ice cream-based dessert ideas. Rule #1: don’t bother making ice cream, just get some good quality vanilla and add toppings. (Haagen Dazs in case you were wondering.)

5:27 – Idea #1 is homemade raspberry sauce which consists of some cooked berries, jam, and framboise liqueur. Sigh, this looks incredible.

6:36 – Idea #2 is affogato and thankfully Ina has a fix for those of us with out an espresso maker: buy a shot or two at a shop in advance and just heat it up when you’re ready to serve.

7:40 – Apparently it’s too early in the day for ice cream, but just the right time to bring a cup of espresso to Jeffrey and rub it in that he’s missing the beach barbecue. Poor Jeffrey, sandy seconds for you old sport!

10:09 – We get a brief glimpse of Ina’s friends (Coronas in hand) arriving at the beach before switching back to the action in the kitchen.

11:15 – Pro Tip #1: “smush” the chicken around in the sauce to make sure it’s covered while it marinates. Overnight is best if you have the time.

12:33 – One of the sides is Szechuan Noodles which Ina admits is more in the Tex Mex-Asian fusion realm since she uses regular pasta.

13:20 – Interesting, this sauce has both sesame paste (aka tahini) and peanut butter mixed with the spicy fresh ginger, garlic, chili oil, cayenne and black pepper.

14:42 – Pro Tip #2: buy the darker, toasted sesame oil it has more flavor.

15:18 – I wonder if this is a hold over from her catering days, but Ina has the most enormous bowls and colander. I covet her extra mixing room….

16:54 – I rarely ever doubt Ina, but I’m not sure I’m 100% sold on this dish. Never a big fan of peanut sauce – they usually seem so gloppy and heavy – only she could convert me!

17:39 – Pro Tip #3: Cut the scallions on a diagonal to make a prettier shape for garnishing.

21:12 – A quick shot of someone’s yellow lab enjoying the beach before we finish up the final dish: Broccoli with Garlic and Soy Sauce.

22:07 – The broccoli has been blanched and shocked (hot water immediately followed by a cold water bath) before being dressed with garlic oil, red pepper flake, and soy sauce.

23:46 – Out to the beach where Ina has laid out a big straw mat surrounded by drifts of “inexpensive throw pillows I got on sale” because it’s nicer to have one big blanket for everyone. She thinks of everything, people. Seriously.

24:11 – Chicken is on the grill with the rack positioned far enough above the coals so the exterior doesn’t burn. Although, Ina’s philosophy of “it isn’t a barbecue until the fire department comes,” leaves room for a little singeing.

27:35 – It looks like a sunny, blustery day, but the guests seem game all wrapped up in sweatshirts. Who wouldn’t stick around when Ina is cooking?

28:03 – I didn’t see the broccoli salad served, but we’re off to do Smores over the coals of the grill and I’m guessing no one is going to remind Ina that there’s broccoli to be eaten.

29:50 – Lots of laughing and gooey smiles from this two-marmallows-per-stick crowd. They know what’s up!

Final Thoughts:
I like how Ina’s theme is pretty subtle – a little Hoisin here, some soy sauce and ginger there.

I had such grand plans for doing a Smores-based dessert this summer, but time got away from me…summer 2016 it is!

It would probably take gale force winds to blow me away from an Ina-hosted beach barbecue.

Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken | Image: Laura Messersmith

Lessons Learned:
This Barbecued Chicken was an experiment in a number of ways, not so much because the techniques of making the sauce were difficult, more that the combination of ingredients and my twist on cooking the chicken were a bit unusual.

Sauce – The recipe notes that these quantities produce 1 ½ quarts of sauce which is really quite a lot even given that a significant portion will be used to marinate the chicken before cooking. Unless you prefer to have extra for another purpose I’d recommend reducing the amounts by half and there will still be plenty of sauce to serve with the cooked chicken.

Oven Method – So, yes Barbecued Chicken should be cooked on a grill but in this case the lack of access to charcoal and a lack of confidence that a grill pan alone would suffice I decided to attempt the oven. Success! When cooked at 375 degrees F. for 40-45 minutes, or until the chicken breasts reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Cooked this way, totally, no grill needed. I used a large sauce pan, a medium cutting board, chef’s knife, liquid measuring cup, and measuring spoons, along with a rimmed baking sheet and tongs. Aluminum foil, zip top bag(s), and clean jars or food storage containers round out the helpful items.

The Verdict:
I made Barbecued Chicken for friends coming to watch football and frankly it probably saved the evening since the performance of the guys' favorite team was a bit disjointed and lackluster. Sigh. But, thanks to a delicious dinner during halftime (additional menu installments here and here) the evening was salvaged and has lead to a resolution on my part that all future game-watching should have something delicious to either carry us through a loss, or help us celebrate a victory.

Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken | Image: Laura Messersmith