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Posts tagged ‘Virginia Willis bbq sauce’

Pack Your Knives

I thought it would take a presidential order, or the involvement of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, before a restaurant let me work in their kitchen.  And with good reason:  Why would they hire someone who didn’t go to culinary school, doesn’t speak Spanish, and has biceps the size of saltwater taffies?  Why would they hire someone whose culinary resume has one–and only one–bullet point on it?

  • I have no known nut allergies

But last week I found it: the one restaurant too kind (or busy) to care about my lack of pedigree.  It’s a wine bar that serves appetizers, flatbreads, and cheese plates.  They have a tiny pipsqueak of a kitchen–just big enough for me and the dish washer to scoot around in.  On one wall there’s a refrigerator stocked with things like pears, chorizo, and brie.  On another, there’s a shelf loaded with clean white plates and bowls.

I work at a long counter with years’ worth of knife marks in it.  Slightly above eye-level, there’s a ticket rail where the customers’ orders come in.

The first time the rail filled up with little slips of paper, I panicked right down to the pit of my stomach.  Every dish, even a simple one, had several steps to it, and every ticket had several dishes on it.  When I did the math in my mind, I kind of wanted to impale myself on a steak knife.

But bloodying the equipment is frowned upon at this establishment.  So, despite Padma Lakshmi’s voice in my head saying, “Please pack your knives and go,” I managed to get through the rush.  Strangely, I wanted to do it again as soon as it was over.

When I got home that night, I sat on the kitchen counter with some left-over barbecued chicken.  I ate it cold, out of a Tupperware container, while I gushed about the evening.  Scott had some too, on a roll, with melted Swiss cheese.

bbq chickenThe chicken was so good–and the sauce such a nice balance of vinegary tang and not-too-sweet stickiness–that I declared the whole night a success.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I may even add a bullet point for barbecued chicken down the line.

salad ingredientsSo whip up some of this sauce, my friends.  It’s much better than the gloopy, sugary stuff they sell at the store.  Once you have a jar of it in your fridge (it will last for months), you can get a meal on the table in under 30 minutes.  You’ve got a lot of options: You could serve the chicken breasts whole, with cornbread and vegetables.  Or you could chop them up and throw them into a southwestern-style salad.  You could also layer a tortilla with chicken and cheddar for a killer barbecue quesadilla.  Or you could add the chicken to nachos.

The world is your oyster, as they say.bbq chicken salad

But thank God I don’t have to shuck oysters at the restaurant, right?!?

Baked BBQ Chicken {Download & Print Recipe}
From a Virginia Willis recipe appearing in her book, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, and on her website.  I made no changes to the ingredients for the sauce, but I halved her recipe because it yields a lot.  I added the chicken and a method for cooking it, and told the bbq sauce directions in my own words.

Ingredients: (Makes 4 chicken breasts with about 1 c. of sauce left-over)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 c. (1 stick) salted or unsalted butter

1/2 yellow or Vidalia onion, very finely chopped

1 1/4 c. ketchup

1 c. apple cider vinegar (but you can  substitute white vinegar or white wine vinegar)

1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce

1/8 c. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar (or more, to taste)

juice from 1 lemon


Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and simmer until the onion is very soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Stir occasionally and be careful not to brown them.

Add the remaining ingredients and whisk the sauce together.  Increase the heat so that the sauce comes to a boil, then decrease it to a low simmer.   Let the sauce cook for at least 15 minutes (or as much as 30) so that the flavors meld.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Clean the chicken breasts and lay them in a Pyrex or other baking dish.  Spoon bbq sauce generously on top and under each chicken breast, being careful not to touch the spoon to the chicken and then put it back in the pot of sauce (just for food safety reasons).

Bake the chicken until it’s no longer pink in the middle and has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 25 minutes.


thunder sleepingPack your knives and nap, as Thunder would have it.