It’s Still Bourbon Month
Celebrate with bourbon sorghum chicken
BY TOM YATES
As a kid, I believed that if I could swing high enough to fly over the swing set my world would turn upside down and inside out. My private little Wonderland.
Now, as an adult, the world is upside down and inside out. No swings attached.
These days, it seems that most everything has been shuffled around, rescheduled, rearranged, postponed, cancelled, or virtualized. Even the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby has been moved from the first Saturday in May until the first Saturday in September, landing it right in the middle of National Bourbon Heritage Month. Bourbon and horse racing. A winning ticket. Win. Place. Show.
But, the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, which draws tens of thousands of people to the Bluegrass in September to celebrate all things bourbon, has been postponed and rescheduled as a virtual affair until October. Thinking back on my stints teaching the Culinary Arts: Bourbon Style Cooking School for hundreds of bourbonites at the Bourbon Festival, and remembering all the things that could and did go wrong during those live cooking demos, the thought of a virtual reality show now sounds somewhat appealing, but not as much fun. Take 1. Take 2. Cut. Edit. Silence. Repeat.
As things get rearranged and the seasons change, bourbon remains constant.
Whether you sip it, shoot it, mix it, or cook with it, bourbon is always in season.
Bourbon-Sorghum Glazed Chicken
Make it shine. Oberholzter sorghum, deep and rich, is like silken golden honey. After sauteing 2 minced shallots in 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent, I hit the pan with 1/2 cup Booker’s Bourbon, ignited it, and let it reduce before adding 1 cup Oberholzter sorghum, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard. I brought the glaze to a boil, reduced it to simmer, and let it bubble away until it mellowed out into a smooth glaze, (about 20 minutes) and set it aside.
Stick it. I’m on team skewer. Not only are skewers inherently more fun, they provide a safer option for small gatherings celebrating the Derby and National Bourbon Heritage month. After slicing 2 pounds Garry Farm boneless chicken into manageable 1 1/2″ pieces, I threaded the chicken onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers along with Casey County red and green bell peppers sliced into wedges, peeled and quartered Stonehedge Farm purple onions, 2 sliced Madison County yellow squash, and 2 sliced and halved Woodford County Zucchini. I drizzled the skewers with olive oil and seasoned them with smoked paprika, salt, cracked black pepper, and garlic powder before setting them aside to marinate.
Fire. With everything on deck, I slapped the skewers onto a grill over hot coals and grilled the chicken for 10-12 minutes, turning them from to time and liberally brushing them with the glaze after each turn. When they were cooked through and slightly charred, I pulled them from the grill to rest and grilled 3 halved Stonehedge Farm purple onions cut side down. When the onions softened and caramelized, I carefully scooped out the inner layers to serve on the side, filled the grilled onions with heaping spoonfuls of succotash, and nestled them alongside the sorghum-bourbon glazed chicken before finishing with snipped garden chives and fresh basil.
While the bourbon added subtle smoky oak undertones to the sticky glaze, the vinegar-spiked sorghum provided mellow sweet acidity as it napped the tender chicken. Spilling from the soft caramelized onions, the lightly creamed succotash countered the charred crunch of the grilled vegetables and the smoky sweetness of the bourbon glazed chicken.
Bourbon Season. Never postponed.
This article also appears on page 18 of the September 2020 print edition of Ace Weekly.
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