In this flavorful orange bourbon grilled chicken recipe, you toss chicken thighs in a well-balanced zesty, and boozy bbq sauce for an easy, finger licking meal.
It surprised me that people still love chicken breasts. Maybe I spent too many years eating this overcooked and flavorless cut of meat, but I think they’re terribly boring. High in protein and low in fat, sure. Yet that lack of fat causes chicken breasts to easily overcook, rendering them dry and tough more often than not.
It’s up to the cook to work some magic and transform this over-popular poultry into something of interest. Hence the need for food magazines and websites to dump 100 New and Exciting Chicken Breast Ideas on their readers. Or why celebrities looking to bulk up would rather turn chicken breasts into smoothies instead of actually chewing the meat. Hard pass, thanks.
why I prefer chicken thighs
But what if you're not looking for another uninspired chicken breast idea or to drink your meat through a straw? Perhaps you should consider chicken thighs, instead.
Dark chicken meat is not as unhealthy as we have been led to believe, or even close to being a poor nutritional choice. In my opinion, the nutritional differences between thighs and breasts are not significant enough to make me suffer through eating disappointingly tough chicken breasts.
Thighs have slightly more calories, some more fat, and just a little less protein. The fat is partially monounsaturated, like the kind you find in avocados. And if you avoid eating the skin, all the better. Compared to most cuts of beef, chicken thighs are still a healthier option. They also hold a lead in the protein department.
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are just as easily found as breasts. And when I’m not bringing home a whole local bird, I’ll always opt for the thighs. Since they have a little more fat they’re more forgiving to overcooking, and also bring more flavor to the table. Most often, they’re cheaper too. You can sub out thighs for breasts in any recipe, and here’s a good place to start.
orange bourbon grilled chicken thighs
In this recipe I start by grilling the chicken thighs plain. It's only after they are cooked that I toss them in a homemade BBQ sauce. I like this approach because too often sauces end up burning the meat when you grill them. You don't have to worry about that here.
You start out making the sauce in a pan on the stove. The sauce is by no means a traditional BBQ that you can trace back to one particular region in the US. Though if I had to, I'd say it kind of leans towards Kansas City style of BBQ. The difference is that it includes orange juice to provide the tang that typically comes from vinegar. It also includes bourbon, which isn't typical, yet it also comes from Kentucky.
The result packs a ton of flavor and I love it. There's sweetness, smokiness, tanginess, and just a little spiciness. I don't buy bottled BBQ sauces because they never seem balanced. They're always either too sweet or too smoky. This sauce proves that you can make your own at home in not a long of time and in a way that allows you to totally adjust the ingredients to tweak it to your liking.
For another easy and tasty chicken recipe, check out my Moroccan Chicken Tagine.