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Grilled Chicken with Cherry Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Grilled Chicken with Cherry Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Photo: Quentin Bacon

This finger-licking BBQ sauce has a classic thick, clingy texture and irresistible savory-sweet-tangy flavor, but here you get it in a healthier way, without lots of added sugar, thanks to the cherries at its base, as well as a touch of molasses, which adds a deep, distinctive taste and is as unrefined and mineral-rich as a sweetener gets. The bourbon spikes it with an exciting layer of flavor, but you can simply leave it out if you prefer.

The sauce requires no cooking, just an easy whir in the blender, and, of course you can make it ahead so it’s ready whenever you want it. Although I have paired it here with chicken, it also works perfectly with pork, or firm tofu and the cooked protein will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, to be re-warmed or served at room temperature, piled in a sandwich or with a side, like a salad or slaw.


1 cup pitted sweet cherries, thawed if frozen
½ cup canned, no-salt-added tomato sauce
3 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons bourbon, optional
3 whole peeled cloves garlic
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Pinch ground cloves

For serving:
Eight 6-ounce skinless boneless chicken breasts, pounded to an even ½-inch thickness


Combine the cherries, tomato sauce, molasses, vinegar, bourbon, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, and cloves in a blender and puree until almost smooth. Sauce may be frozen or refrigerated at this stage.

To cook, brush the chicken breasts with half of the sauce. Spray a grill or grill pan with cooking spray and pre-heat it over a medium-high heat. Grill the chicken until it is charred and grill marks form, brushing with additional sauce if desired, 4-5 minutes per side. Serve drizzled with the remaining sauce.

Makes 8 servings

Serving size: 1 piece chicken breast plus 2 tablespoons additional sauce

Per serving: Calories 250; Total Fat 4.5g (Mono Fat 1.2g, Poly Fat 0.8g, Sat Fat 0.9g); Protein 39g; Carb 10g; Fiber 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 160mg

Excellent source of: Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, Selenium Vitamin B6

Copyright 2017 Ellie Krieger. All rights reserved.

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