Grilled Chicken with Root Beer BBQ Sauce and Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Mango

It’s hot outside and we’re all looking for easy, breezy dinners to satisfy adults and kids alike. What to make? How long since you’ve made barbecued chicken with home-made barbecue sauce? When paired with this kid friendly pasta salad flecked with chunks of juicy-sweet mango, this dinner is perfect for that summer get together with friends and family under the stars.

I’ve narrowed this simple sauce down to its essence…the fewest ingredients with the most flavor and used a single spice blend to season the chicken. Sweet and spicy, root beer is a classic base for barbecue sauce and with the exception of the liquid smoke, you might have all these ingredients in your fridge as we speak. Making your own barbecue sauce may sound crazy when there are so many bottled brands to choose from but blend this up one time and you’ll appreciate the unique taste of sauce made just the way you like it.

The whole wheat pasta cooks up quickly and once tossed with lime, green onion, shredded carrot and cilantro, it’s ready for those golden chunks of mango and toasted sesame seeds to round out the meal.

It’s that easy: A tasty combo of spices, salt, garlic and pepper, you’ll find Montreal Steak seasoning is not only tasty on steak but great on chicken, fish and veggies as well. You won’t use up all the sauce so save it for another day covered and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

Start to finish: 1 hour
Hands on time: 30 minutes

Root Beer BBQ Sauce (makes about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup root beer
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning plus more for seasoning the chicken
1 cut up whole chicken or bone in chicken breast, legs and thighs of your choice, breasts cut in half

Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes or until it reduces a little and becomes thicker.

Lay out the chicken pieces on a sheet pan and rub them generously with the Montreal seasoning. Let sit at room temperature for 10 or 15 minutes while the grill heats up.

To cook chicken using a gas grill:
Preheat the burners on high, covered for 10 minutes, then adjust the heat to medium high.

Sear the chicken covered, turning it once or twice to avoid flare ups, for about 8 minutes. It won’t be cooked through but should be browned. Station the legs and thighs over the highest heat as their darker meat takes longer to cook than breast meat.

Turn off one burner (the middle one if you have three) and arrange the chicken over the shut off burner.
Cook the seared chicken, covered for about 12 minutes or until almost cooked through. Turn and move it around to avoid flare ups. Then baste the chicken with a few coatings of the bbq sauce (closing the lid between bastings) so that it gets thick and sticky, another 6 to 8 minutes. Chicken is done when the juices run clear or an instant read thermometer reads 180°F for thighs and legs, 170°F for breast meat.

To cook chicken over charcoal:
Open the vents on the bottom of the grill and lid. Bank the lit charcoal on one side of the grill so that the coals are three times higher on the opposite side. The lower side is where you will finish cooking the chicken.

When the coals are ready (grayish white), grill the chicken as described above.

Arrange the chicken on a platter and serve hot or at room temperature.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Mango and Sesame

It’s that easy: When assembling this meal I start the barbecue sauce first, then while it simmers I make the pasta salad and cook the chicken last. This gives the sauce time to cook and reduce and the pasta time to soak up the dressing.

12 oz whole grain bow tie pasta
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
5 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
Red pepper flake (optional)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
2 mangoes, peeled, diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted in a dry skillet

Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water until tender, but firm to the bite, about 8 to 9 minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles under running cold water to stop the cooking.

Combine the remaining vegetable oil, sesame oil, vinegar, lime juice, honey, salt and red pepper flake if using in a large bowl and stir to mix well. Toss in the noodles, onions, carrots, mango and cilantro. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste. There will be lots of dressing in the bottom of the bowl. The noodles will absorb it while it sits. Refrigerate and stir every once in a while so that the noodles absorb the dressing evenly, about 30 minutes. Serve chilled or at room temperature with the sesame seeds sprinkled over the top.

Make-ahead: Can be made up to 8 hours ahead refrigerated.

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Can’t find an ingredient? Ask any Heinen’s associate and they’ll be happy to help.

Carla Snyder
Posted by: Carla Snyder
Carla has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, food writer and author of 6 cook books including the James Beard nominated Big Book of Appetizers. Her passion is sharing fresh, cooked-from-scratch weeknight meals that cut prep time and practically eliminate that nightly sink full of dishes. Look for Carla on Facebook, Twitter (carlacooks), Pinterest and at where she blogs about everything from cooking for two to easy weekend entertaining for a crowd.

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