Grilled Chicken with Nectarine Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Cobblers and pie are delicious ways to enjoy summer stone fruit, but those sweet fruit flavors are also surprisingly great in savory recipes. When yellow nectarines are cooked with onions, ketchup, brown sugar, and chipotles, they morph into a sweet, smoky barbecue sauce. This fruity twist on standard barbecue sauce is great with pork tenderloin or chops, or—as you see it here—slathered on grilled chicken.
Special equipment: You will need a pastry brush or barbecue basting brush for this recipe.
What to buy: We like the tart-sweet flavors of yellow nectarines over white nectarines in this recipe. Yellow peaches can be substituted for the nectarines.
Game plan: The sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Let it come to room temperature before using.
You’ll need to season the chicken for at least 6 hours before cooking, but for best results, season it overnight.
For the chicken:
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, medium dice
- 1 tablespoon minced chipotles in adobo sauce (from about 1 medium chipotle)
- 1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 6 ripe but firm yellow nectarines (about 1 1/2 pounds), pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Vegetable oil, for rubbing the grill grates
- 4 ripe but firm yellow nectarines (about 1 pound), pitted and halved
- Mix the salt and pepper together in a small bowl; set aside.
- If using chicken breasts (either boneless or bone-in), cut them in half crosswise. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and place on a baking sheet. Season all over, using all of the salt and pepper mixture. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.
For the sauce:
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, chipotle, garlic, and measured salt. Season with pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the ketchup and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and slightly darkened in color, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and cook until the mixture is bubbling around the edges, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the nectarines are completely softened and starting to fall apart, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to a blender. Remove the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and cover the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the lid from popping off). Blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Equally divide the sauce between 2 small bowls and set aside to cool to room temperature. Set aside 1 bowl of sauce for serving and the other bowl for brushing onto the chicken and nectarines while they cook on the grill.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat an outdoor grill or grill pan to medium (about 350°F to 450°F).
- When the grill is ready, rub the grill grates with a towel dipped in vegetable oil. Place the chicken on the grill (skin-side down if using skin-on), cover the grill, and cook until grill marks appear on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces, cover the grill, and cook until grill marks appear on the second side, about 5 minutes more.
- Flip the chicken again and, using the bowl of sauce set aside for the chicken and nectarines, generously brush the chicken. Cover the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Flip and brush the chicken, and continue to flip and brush every 5 minutes (reserving about 1/3 cup of the sauce for the nectarines), until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest chicken piece reads 160°F to 165°F and the meat near the bone is no longer pink, about 10 to 15 minutes more (about 25 to 30 minutes total cooking time). Remove the chicken to a clean serving platter and cover loosely with foil; set aside.
- Scrape down the grill with a grill brush and oil the grates again. Brush the nectarines all over with the remaining 1/3 cup of the sauce. Place cut-side down on the grill, cover the grill, and cook until grill marks appear on the bottom, about 4 to 5 minutes. Using a flat spatula, flip the nectarines and cook until grill marks appear on the second side and the nectarines are slightly softened, about 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove to the serving platter with the chicken and serve immediately, passing the reserved bowl of barbecue sauce.