The joy of great Barbecued Chicken without a Grill or Barbecue—just an ordinary oven.
Let’s face it: Not everyone can enjoy cooking in the great outdoors over Labor Day weekend. Apartment dwellers for instance. To be perfectly honest, there are even people who could grill all weekend but won’t. Count me among them. Ever a control freak, I am practically paralyzed at my inability to control the heat on the Weber. I also find billowing smoke and scorching temperatures as unappealing as a piece of dried-out chicken. I’ll stop there. You get the picture. I think I have found the solution. It is entirely possible to enjoy the great smoky flavor, the crispy sticky-sweet skin of barbecued chicken without setting foot outdoors. Enter Claire Saffitz’s sensational recipe for Oven-Barbecued Chicken.
There’s more to this great Barbecued Chicken than just chicken.
I don’t know where Claire Saffitz got the idea to lay her barbecued chicken over masses of onion slices but it’s pure genius. It’s kind of a toss-up between which is better—the onions or the chicken. The onions soak up both chicken and barbecue sauce flavors for oniony goodness that’s simply superb. And completely unattainable on a grill. Saffitz is a genius recipe developer who has some of the most popular posts on Chewing the Fat. (Links to her great posts follow this recipe). A Senior Food Editor at Bon Appetit Magazine, where this recipe first appeared, Claire is most famous for creating gourmet recipes of popular American snacks. She is a star on Bon Appetit’s YouTube Channel. Halfway through getting her Master’s Degree in Culinary history, St. Louis-born Claire she decided she belonged in the kitchen and not the classroom. Off she went to work at Bon Appetit where she has risen from being a freelance recipe tester to Senior Food Editor. You will be very glad she cut her academic career short.
The Choice of Barbecue Sauce only makes this even better.
To add to the simplicity of this dish, it calls for Store-Bought Barbecue Sauce. If you’ve ever made your own Barbecue Sauce, a process which, in my experience, involved 14 ingredients, a Cuisinart and 45 minutes on the stove, this is a godsend. I am a sucker for those “Best (Fill in the Blank) Ranked” lists. In this case, delish.com had “Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce” coming out on top. Quote: “More than 50 percent of our tasters voted for this classic. It’s got everything you want in a barbecue sauce: perfectly balanced flavor, nice texture, and a smokiness that won’t overpower your food. Trust this bottle with all your barbecuing needs.” It didn’t hurt that I was in the middle of Costco googling for this information while standing in front of Sweet Baby Rays 2-40 oz. bottles for 5.99.
The start of this recipe is a quick spice rub.
Having simplified the recipe with Sweet Baby Ray’s, I do confess that you need the patience to get the skin crispy as you want and the meat as tender as it should be. You start with a spice rub and those masses of sliced onions. Into the oven the chicken goes to truly bake until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees. Blister the skin under the broiler. Only then do you slather the barbecue sauce on and then you’re almost home. Broil until the skin is bubbling and charred in spots. Back onto the heavenly onions it goes and voila! Your oven-barbecued chicken is ready. I’m pretty sure you’ll think it’s better than anything that ever came off a grill. We did. Here’s the recipe.
Claire Saffritz' Oven-Barbecued Chicken
An astonishing recipe for Barbecued Chicken without a Grill and on a flavor-filled bed of absolutely delicious onions.
- 8 pieces skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and/or bone-in breasts, halved (about 3 lb.)
- 3 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
- 1½ tsp. light brown sugar
- 1½ tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 3 large sweet onions
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup store-bought barbecue sauce, preferably Sweet Baby Ray’s
- Step 1 Arrange a rack in the top third of the oven
- Step 2 preheat to 350°. Pat 8 chicken thighs and/or legs dry with paper towels, then transfer to a medium bowl.
- Step 3 Toss 3 tsp. salt, 1½ tsp. brown sugar, 1½ tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. paprika, and 1 tsp. garlic powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle entire spice rub over chicken in a bowl. Toss with tongs until pieces are coated.
- Step 4 Peel and halve 3 onions through the root end. Place onion cut sides down on cutting board, then thinly slice lengthwise.
- Step 5 Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Transfer onion to a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. oil
- Step 6 season with more salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
- Step 7 Spread the onion mixture on a baking sheet and place chicken legs over skin side up, spacing evenly.
- Step 8 Roast chicken on top rack until the skin is rendered and meat is tender all the way to the bone, 40–45 minutes. Turn on broiler and continue to roast until chicken skin is blistered and crisp in spots, 2–4 minutes depending on the strength of your broiler. Remove from oven and let chicken rest 5 minutes to allow juices to settle.
- Step 9 Stir 1 Tbsp. vinegar and 1 cup barbecue sauce in a small bowl with a pastry brush.
- Step 10 Turn chicken pieces over with tongs. Push onions toward the center of the baking sheet to form a pile. Paint a generous layer of barbecue sauce over the surface of the chicken. Using tongs, arrange chicken over onions. Broil until sauce is caramelized in spots, 2–4 minutes.
- Step 11 Remove baking sheet from oven and turn chicken one more time, placing in the same position as before, only sauced side down (the skin should be facing up). Paint skin sides of chicken generously with barbecue sauce mixture (you most likely won’t use all of it). Return to the top rack and broil until skin is bubbling and charred in spots, about 4 minutes.
- Step 12 Let rest 5–10 minutes. Serve chicken over onions with remaining barbecue sauce mixture.