As summer ends, I always have a hard time accepting that peach season is over; peaches and figs are two of my favourite fruits. I had two peaches left, and as one of them was a little overripe, I chose to cook them both and make a barbecue sauce for my chicken thighs.
I used the sauce to baste the thighs during grilling, and passed the rest at the table for those who wanted extra. Barbecue sauce can often be too sweet in my opinion, so I aimed to keep the natural sweetness of the peaches as the star of the sauce. I did this by adding minimal sugar, and using apple juice to add liquid and any additional sweetness.
The chicken thighs I was using were skinless, boneless thighs and I simply used a basic rub that I had in the spice drawer to season them and add a bit of heat to contrast with the sweetness of the peaches.
Using olive oil, cook until starting to soften:
1/2 medium onion, diced
Add the spices, and cook for a couple of minutes to bring out the flavour:
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
2 peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
Stir to coat well with the spices.
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2 - 4 tablespoons apple juice
Start by adding 2 tablespoons of apple juice, and add more if needed during cooking. The peaches will release their juice as they cook. Keep the heat at a simmer to prevent the liquid evaporating; this will make a dry sauce and could also lead to burning. Continue to cook until the peaches and onions are very soft.
Using a hand blender, puree the sauce.
Taste and adjust seasoning by adding salt, pepper or more ancho chili.
Add vinegar or brown sugar to adjust the acidity.
Season the chicken thighs by combining:
I placed both on a baking sheet and then added the chicken thighs, making sure that all sides were coated.
Cook the chicken on a hot grill. Sear the first side, and then turn the chicken.
Baste with the peach barbecue sauce after the first turn, and continue to grill, turning and basting often, until the chicken is fully cooked.
Remove the cooked chicken from the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
I served the hot, sticky chicken with a warm orzo salad, that was full of vegetables....tomatoes, peppers, green onion, cucumber, chick peas, spinach, fresh basil. A lovely contrast to the chicken.
- The peaches I was using were quite large, giving me about 2 cups of diced fruit.
- If your peaches are ripe enough, the skin will peel off nicely once you slit it with a sharp knife. If this is not working, simply bring some water to a boil, drop the whole peaches into the boiling water for about 10 - 20 seconds, then run under cold water immediately to stop the fruit from cooking. The skin should have split and will peel off easily.
- Don't limit yourself to peaches...nectarines, apricots, apples, pears or plums are other good choices for a barbecue sauce.
- Barbecue sauce is known for using apple cider vinegar; I wanted the deeper flavour of Balsamic vinegar for this one. Use whichever you want...apple cider vinegar is a bit sharper in flavour as it is not aged like Balsamic vinegar is.
- I pureed the sauce as I wanted to use it for basting. If you are serving it as a sauce only, consider leaving it chunky.
- Extra barbecue sauce can be frozen.
- Any dried chili powder can be used, and the amount is entirely up to you and your heat tolerance. I went mild in the sauce as the rub I was using had a bit of heat to it.
- Use the barbecue sauce to baste chicken breast, ham steaks, pork tenderloin, salmon or halibut.