Brown Paper Bag Barbecued Chicken


 Taylor Mathis

By author James Villas from his book My Mother’s Southern Kitchen: Recipes and Reminiscences

Not only is James Villas a native Charlottean, but he’s also the author of award-winning cookbooks including Pig: King of the Southern Table, which won a 2011 James Beard Award. Villas was writing about pimento cheese, beaten biscuits, and batter-fried chicken for a national audience before it was cool to write about Southern fare. No one else could have created this über-’cue dish with a buttered paper bag, cayenne, light brown sugar, and some “feather meat.”

Yields 4 servings

1/4 cup catsup
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons minced onion
1 medium-sized paper bag
1 3- to 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut up into serving pieces

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the chicken, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to moderate, and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove the pan from the heat. Grease the inside of the paper bag, which should have no open folds or creases. Dip each piece of chicken in the sauce and place in the bag. Spoon the remaining sauce over the chicken. Fold the bag and secure the top of it with a metal skewer, place the bag in a large roasting pan, and bake 1 1/2 hours, never opening the bag. With tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter and pour on the sauce from the bag.

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