Grilled chicken slathered with barbecue sauce is a backyard-cookout staple for good reason. It's sweet, tangy, smoky, and just a bit sticky; it's summer comfort food at its best. While we love the classics, we also like to experiment, which is how we came up with the idea to toss our favorite barbecue chicken into a taco.
We start, as we always do, by making our own barbecue sauce, using standards like ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, and molasses, plus a heavy dose of Frank's RedHot sauce for a spicy punch. Then we brush the sauce liberally on seasoned chicken thighs on the grill. As the chicken continues to cook, we keep brushing on that sauce; with each subsequent application, it bakes down and caramelizes for an even more flavorful exterior.
When the chicken is finished, we chop it up and slide it into warm, soft flour tortillas, then top the tacos with sweet grilled onions, bright and fresh cilantro, and tangy Treasure Cave Blue Cheese. It's hearty, refreshing, and unique--an experiment that yields results well worth the work.
Barbecue Chicken Tacos With Charred Onions and Blue Cheese
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: Serves 4
For the Rub:
1 tablespoon (14g) dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons (10g) kosher salt
2 teaspoons (10g) paprika
2 teaspoons (10g) chili powder
1 teaspoon (5g) garlic powder
1 teaspoon (5g) onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the Sauce:
1 cup (240ml) ketchup
1/3 cup dark brown sugar (2 1/2 ounces; 70g)
1/4 cup (60ml) apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons (45ml) Frank's RedHot® Sauce
2 tablespoons (30ml) molasses
1 tablespoon (15ml) Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon (12g) barbecue rub
1 tablespoon (15ml) yellow mustard
For the Tacos:
1 1/2 pounds (680g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large (1/2-pound) red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices and skewered horizontally
1 tablespoon (15ml) canola or vegetable oil
8 taco-sized flour tortillas
1/2 cup (120g) Treasure Cave® Crumbled Blue Cheese
1/4 cup (6g) finely chopped fresh cilantro
Grill, instant-read thermometer
1. To Make the Rub: In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, salt, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
2. To Make the Sauce: In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Frank's RedHot, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon (12g) barbecue rub, and yellow mustard. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Coat chicken thighs all over with remaining barbecue rub. Light 1 chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on one side of charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to medium-high heat, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Place chicken thighs on cool side of grill, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Brush chicken with barbecue sauce, flip, and cook for 5 minutes more. Brush chicken again with barbecue sauce, flip, cover grill, and cook until center of chicken registers 160°F (71°C) when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the meat, about 5 minutes more. Brush chicken a third time with barbecue sauce and move to hot side of grill. Cook, flipping occasionally, until chicken develops light charring on both sides. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Roughly chop chicken.
4. Brush onion slices all over with canola or vegetable oil and place on hot side of grill. Cook, flipping occasionally, until onions have charred and softened, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, remove skewer, and roughly chop.
5. Place tortillas on cool side of grill, cover, and warm until soft and pliable, about 1 minute. Stuff each tortilla with chicken and top with charred onions, blue cheese, and cilantro. Serve immediately.