Saturday, August 7


Eating the SFA Cookbook: Cheerwine Barbecue Chicken

Besides getting to enjoy a week at the beach with my family, another bonus of visiting South Carolina was being in Cheerwine Country. I was actually just south of said Country (Cheerwine is birthed in Salisbury, NC), but luckily Cheerwine is available in SC too. So while cooking Black-Eyed Peas, I was planning for what we'd eat from the SFA Community Cookbook the next week. This was my opportunity to collect the not-so-secret ingredient for the Cheerwine Barbecue Chicken, which sounded like gold since the first time I read it.

After crossing several state lines with our 2-Liter bumping around the backseat (and the bottle of Cheerwine... Sorry, Martha Jane, I couldn't resist), I needed to round up enough hungry mouths to eat this dish with us. The good/bad news about this recipe is it makes a lot of chicken. If you're a home of less than four, you'll want to get some friends to help you out--or work on leftovers all week. Luckily, we were able to gather four friends to help test the recipe with us.

Even though prep and cooking of this dish is fairly simple, this isn't a last-minute recipe. You need to plan in advance. The Cheerwine barbecue sauce is cooked on the stove-top and then needs to cool before marinating the chicken. The chicken needs to lounge in the sauce for 4-8 hours before baking or grilling. Luckily, I read the recipe a few times in advance, so I was prepared. Ingredients beyond the soft drink are things you'll readily have in your cupboard/fridge. Just get a mess of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, put them in the marinade in the morning, and you're good to go that night. We decided to bake the thighs (vs grilling), which was so easy. Baste once in the hour they cook; that's it. The chicken comes out moist and sweet, with just a tinge of spice. Loved it! Seems like all the guests did too. All I had left at the end of supper was a pile of chicken bones. I usually don't cook chicken with the skin on it, and what a difference it makes in moistness of the meat! Personally, I don't love the consistency of chicken skin, but I was out-voted by everyone else involved. I know when to stand down.

I have to give a quick shout-out to Aunt Lella again. I used Lella's recipe for homemade mayonnaise (from Nan Davis's Blue Ribbon Pimento Cheese, the first recipe in the Cookbook) to use in my squash casserole. I'm telling you, if you try her recipe, you'll never want to go back to store bought mayo. Never. And don't you love that you can shroud squash in mayonnaise and cheese and you still get to call it a vegetable?

Moral of this story: if you are in or near Cheerwine Country, get yourself a bottle. And get a big one. That way you can enjoy a couple of 'cold ones' while you make your chicken. And maybe another to wash it all down.