Friday, June 04, 2010
BBQ PULLED CHICKEN SANDWICHES
I rarely make sandwiches, except for grilled cheeses and BLTs, but something about summer and all the accompanying glossy magazine photo spreads of picnics and barbeques makes me long for breezy, crowd-pleasing, down-home, checkered-tablecloth fare. This recipe from Cooking Light fit the bill admirably; it’s fast and easy enough to throw together on a weeknight, not too junky, and thoroughly delicious, with a complex sweet-sour-spicy flavor. (The original recipe title was “Black Pepper and Molasses Pulled Chicken Sandwiches,” but I've changed it because (a) it'll never get called that around our house and (b) it's odd to me that black pepper gets marquee billing when it's not especially prevalent in the sauce.) A few recipe commenters griped that the sauce wasn’t spicy enough, but mine had plenty of kick, probably because I substituted chipotle chili powder for part of the regular stuff, which I highly recommend for added heat and smokiness. I’m definitely glad that I took the advice of the majority of commenters and doubled the original sauce-to-chicken proportion; everyone who didn’t complained that there wasn’t enough sauce. (I’ve incorporated that change, and a few related method tweaks, into the recipe below.) I actually quadrupled the sauce quantities because I was doubling the amount of chicken—the thighs I bought came in a 1½-pound package and the commenters said the chicken mixture freezes well, so I figured what the hell? But the rolls we bought at the farmers’ market (so tasty!) were larger than 2 ounces, like small hoagie rolls, so we ate more chicken per serving than Cooking Light dictates, and A enjoyed the meal so much that within a few days, all the leftovers were gone before I could even freeze them. Upscale sloppy joes FTW!
This meal was so successful that I’m already planning to make it again just two weeks later (yes, I’m behind on my posting; I was on vacation!)—complete with sweet potato oven fries on the side, which are perfect for dipping into any leftover sauce.
6 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons prepared mustard (i.e., not mustard powder; I used Dijon)
2 tablespoons molasses
1½ teaspoons chili powder (swap in chipotle chili powder for ½ teaspoon of the regular if you like)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces (I just realized I totally neglected to do this the first time around, but they turned out just fine anyway; I think it just helps them cook fast enough to meet Cooking Light’s “30-minute meals” criteria)
4 (2-ounce) sandwich rolls, sliced in half horizontally
Dill pickle slices
1. Combine all ingredients except rolls and pickles in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes or until chicken is done and tender (you can cook longer if you wish). If sauce looks too thin, simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Remove chicken from saucepan with a slotted spoon, reserving sauce in pan. Place chicken on a cutting board and shred with two forks. Place chicken in a bowl and mix in reserved sauce (start with ½ cup) until desired consistency is reached. (Any leftover sauce makes a good dip for sweet potato fries!)
3. Place chicken on rolls and top with pickles.
Time: 40 minutes
Leftover potential: Good (obviously, store leftover chicken, pickles, and rolls separately!)