Balsamic BBQ Chicken with Oven Frites

The use of balsamic vinegar takes BBQ sauce and turns it on its head. I’m not one for vinegary sauces, but this one is superbly addictive. I couldn’t stop at just the chicken, but had to dip my fries in it too. And this, really, couldn’t be simpler. Cook the sauce while your chicken and fries are in the oven and they’ll all be ready just in time.


THE RECIPE


Balsamic BBQ Chicken with Oven Frites

(to serve two)

Don’t forget to check out my Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions at the bottom of the recipe.

Ingredients

Oven Frites by Martha Stewart

  • 2 medium Russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • dried Italian herbs (choose your faves! I did parsley, oregano, and basil, though rosemary would be superb)
  • freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Chicken Thighs

  • 2 – 4 pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, thoroughly dried, seasoned with salt and pepper

Balsamic BBQ Sauce by Giada DeLaurentiis

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Start with the fries…

  1. Place a rack in the upper third and lower third of the oven so you can cook both the fries and chicken in it at the same time.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Set a heavy baking sheet inside the oven and leave it to heat for at least 15 minutes. This will create a hot base for your potatoes to immediately start crisping on.
  4. If desired, peel the potatoes.
  5. Slice the potatoes into 1/3 to 1/2-inch wide batons.
  6. Place the potatoes in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs and cheese, sprinkling the amount of herbs and cheese to your liking.
  7. Remove the heated baking sheet from the oven, spread the potatoes on it in a single layer, and return it right to the oven on the upper rack.
  8. After about 30 minutes, when they’re golden on the bottom, flip the potatoes.
  9. Continue to cook until golden all over, about 15 minutes.

Once the fries are in the oven, start the chicken…

  1. Set a heavy-bottomed, oven-proof saute pan to medium-high heat.
  2. Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil.
  3. When it just starts to smoke, add your chicken pieces, skin side down.
  4. Brown all sides of the meat, turning often so as not to burn, until it’s a nice shade of walnut–about a total of 10 minutes.
  5. Once all sides are browned and crisp, lay the chicken thighs skin side up and place the pan in the oven on the lower rack.
  6. Lower the heat of the oven to 375.
  7. Start cooking the BBQ sauce (directions below).
  8. After 15 minutes, brush with BBQ sauce and put back in the oven.
    • This is also about the time you should be flipping your fries and placing back in the oven.
  9. Every five minutes, brush the chicken with BBQ sauce again until it’s done, about another 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken and fries cook, make the sauce…

  1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, whisking until the mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined.
  2. Cook over medium heat until reduced by a third, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  3. Remove from heat when finished (or keep warm by leaving it on low).

Serve…

Brush the chicken with a final layer of sauce, plate it alongside the crisp oven frites and serve with a bowl of extra sauce, for dipping your fries. Yum!!


Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions

Chicken Thighs: Use any cut of chicken you like, but keep in mind that your cooking time will change depending on the chicken and that you should include browning as part of the cooking time. So, if you choose to make boneless chicken breasts, which take about 20 minutes of cooking, and you spend ten minutes browning them, they should be in the oven for only another ten. Use this guideline to figure out the same for any other cut of meat.

And, of course, you can use any other type of meat, as long as you cook it in whatever manner it needs.

Browning the chicken: When cooking any meat on the stove top, a general guideline is that it will release from the pan when it’s ready. If you try to turn the chicken to brown on another side and it doesn’t easily pull away, wait until it does. If it seems like it’s going to burn, but is still stuck, then you may not have used enough oil or the heat is too high. I recommend using a thin, metal spatula to scrape beneath the chicken so as to damage the skin/meat as little as possible while trying to get it un-stuck.

Brushing with BBQ Sauce: I like to brush my meat with BBQ sauce as it’s cooking so that it has time to caramelize on top of the meat. If you’re going to do this, make sure you completely remove the meat from the oven and close the door so that you’re not letting a lot of heat out by lingering over the open oven.

Alternatively, you can brush with BBQ sauce five minutes before it’s done and set it under the broiler to finish off. Or simply serve with BBQ sauce without having caramelized it on the meat.

Timing the dish: The breakdown is that your potatoes need 45 minutes or so in the oven, chicken thighs need about 40 minutes combined on the stove top and in the oven, and the sauce needs 15-20 to cook and reduce. Because of this, I’ve written the recipe in such a way that everything should end up done at about the same time.

But…we all know nothing is perfect. And who wants to rush rush rush trying to make sure everything is timed perfectly? First, breathe and don’t worry about it. Second, if your chicken is done before the fries, just take it out of the oven and set it aside to rest; it’ll stay perfectly warm enough while the fries finish. If you like, once the fries are just about done, put the chicken back into the oven for a quick warm-up.

If your fries are done before the chicken, follow the same procedure. Take them out of the oven and set them aside. Once the chicken is just about done, throw them back in the oven to warm up. Even consider throwing them under the broiler, which applies very high, quick heat, and may help crisp the fries a little more.

Lastly, remember that it takes time to eat. Once everything is on your plate, it’s all going to end up at room temperature at some point while you eat it. So don’t lose your mind over needing it all to be hot upon serving. Just enjoy how delicious it is 🙂


THE STORY


I think this meal is going to be a new staple in my dinner repertoire, especially once it’s warm enough outside to grill. I’ve always wanted to make my own barbecue sauce because I’d like to be able to tweak it perfectly to my liking and this one blew me away a bit! Normally, I avoid vinegary tasting barbecue sauces; they’re completely unappealing to me. I can’t tell you what it is about this sauce (by Giada DeLaurentiis, by the way) that’s different from the others, perhaps the specific use of balsamic vinegar (which I adore), but the vinegary bite is almost addictive.

The fries were made with an “Oven Frites” recipe by Martha Stewart (go figure, two of my three favorite cooks!). She slices them thin and bakes them at a high temperature so that they’re crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I swear they’re better than the traditional fried version. I’ll admit I’ve grown tired of fast food fries, but I don’t doubt anybody else would devour these like an order of McDonald’s, especially with the addition of some Italian herbs and cheese. They’re so super crunchy on the outside and light inside, just as a good fry should be! Dipped in the vinegary barbecue sauce…oh…my…goodness. I wish I had a plate right now!

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