Backstory “Making cocktails with bourbon is easy,” writes Kathleen Purvis in “Bourbon,” part of the popular Savor the South cookbook series by UNC Press. “Cooking with it, beyond the basics of brushing a cake with bourbon or deglazing a pan, isn’t that obvious.”
The author and award-winning food editor of the Charlotte Observer consulted with renowned Charleston chef and “bourbon nut” Sean Brock, who told her he only uses bourbon in raw form to preserve the distinctive flavor. With that in mind, Purvis focused on methods that “allow bourbon to taste like bourbon.” That’s what makes this deceptively simple recipe so special: because you add the honey-bourbon glaze in the last couple of minutes of cooking, the earthy-sweet character of the bourbon shines through, perfectly complementing the spices of the rub and the natural flavor of the dark-meat chicken. And the thighs cook up nice and crispy.
One final tip from Purvis: Keep a moderately priced standard bourbon for cooking, and save the premium stuff for the Old-Fashioneds and Manhattans. —Susan Puckett
Spicy Bourbon Chicken Thighs
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
Nonstick cooking spray
4 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, then set it to broil.
Combine the garlic powder, chili powder, salt, cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken thighs and toss to coat.
Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray. Place the thighs on the pan skin-side down. Broil for 8 minutes. Turn and continue broiling for 6-8 minutes, until the juices run clear.
Whisk together the honey, bourbon and vinegar in a small bowl. Remove the chicken from the broiler and brush with the bourbon glaze. Broil for 1 minute.
Turn the thighs over, brush with the glaze, and broil for 1 minute. Turn skin-side up, brush again, and continue broiling until browned and well glazed. Serve hot.
Makes 4 servings