BBQ with Brew: Beer Basted Chicken Breasts

Who doesn’t love barbequed chicken?

Our first meal back at home yesterday had to be easy enough to make with the few ingredients we managed to pick up at the store on what was (in Ontario, at least) the holiday Monday of a long weekend.  On our travels last week we acquired another grilling cookbook for our budding collection, so we turned to it for inspiration.  And I don’t know about you, but beer basted barbequed chicken sounded pretty tasty to us.  It also seemed fitting to cook something with beer on a long weekend, and it gave us a chance to try out the side-burner for the first time.

Beer basted chicken breasts

Beer basted chicken, served with rice and steamed broccoli.

This recipe is a two part process: first you make a spice rub and apply it to the chicken before refrigerating it for a few hours, then you make a sauce and baste the chicken with it as it grills.  This sounded (to me, at least) as if it should create particularly flavorful and juicy chicken and, I assure you, it didn’t disappoint.

The original recipe called for chicken drumsticks, but we had boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  We made a couple of other variations to the recipe so I’ll post the ingredients we used here, but if you’re interested in the full version, Margaret Howard’s directions are much better and you can check out her book, ‘All Fired Up’.  It’s full of good ideas.

Beer-Basted Chicken Breasts for Two

For the spice rub, mix:

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard (we used French’s Bold & Spicy Deli Mustard)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp fresh lemon peel (I used a fine grater)
  • ¼ tsp each cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt

Rub equal amounts of this mixture into two boneless skinless chicken breasts, then cover them and place them in the fridge for a few hours.  I think ours were in for 2-3 hours.

We started the basting sauce as we were preheating the grill to medium-high for the chicken.  For the sauce, mix the following ingredients together in a small pot (likely the smallest one you have, you won’t need much sauce for two people):

Side burner!

Breaking in the side burner

  • ¼ cup beer
  • 1 tbsp each of brown sugar and fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste (more pepper than salt, if you’re like us)

When we were ready to preheat the grill, we started the sauce over the side burner on medium.  It didn’t take long to come to a simmer, and once boiling we lowered the heat to low and kept it simmering.  It becomes syrupy as the sauce reduces and after about 5 minutes we deemed it done and turned the side burner off completely.  Once the chicken was on the grill, we turned it four times (every 2 minutes or so) and basted it each time.  Ultimately, this required all of the sauce.  The resulting chicken was juicy, and we served it up with rice and steamed broccoli, which complimented the chicken really well.  The combination of lemon and cayenne gave it a zesty tangy flavour that was entirely different than our previous barbequed chicken… Not a bad end to a long weekend!

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Grilling off the grid…

Fear not, we haven’t fallen out of love with the barbeque — we’ve just been away for a few days.  Just far enough north that cell reception was patchy and internet was non-existent.  The last couple of days looked like this –>

A classic Ontario landscape

Welcome to the Canadian Shield: rocks, lakes +trees galore!

But, thankfully, we’ve never been all that far from a grill.  Over the past week or so, we’ve enjoyed steaks expertly grilled by my dad, some s’mores made with kids just learning to roast marshmallows, and a few juicy burgers made beside a lake after a marathon game of Monopoly.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

We couldn’t do any grilling over a campfire due to the recent drought and the resulting fire ban, but on our night to cook we used the barbeque at our friends’ cabin to cook up some tilapia fillets in foil.  We made pouches with 3 fillets each (barely overlapping) and seasoned the fish with salt & pepper, lemon juice, a few dabs of butter, and some minced garlic and onion before sealing up the foil pouches.  Grilled on high for about 20 minutes the fish turned out pretty well, and I think it would work with pretty much any solid white fish.

As with most meals, however, my favourite part was dessert: grilled pineapple slices served with Greek-style honey-flavoured yogurt.  We will most definitely be doing that again.  I’ve seen quite a few pineapple recipes that involve coating the pineapple with some sort of flavouring and I’m sure that would be delicious, too, but we just did straight pineapple sliced about 1cm (½“) thick.  The juices essentially caramelized all on their own.

Alas, it was a little dark by the time we finished and I only had my phone to take photos with so you’ll have to take our word for it that it worked!

It got a little bit dark....

Barbeque by night… this is the pineapple.