I was tempted to use this recipe as the subject of one of my cooking videos, but because I’m using a slow cooker I figured it wouldn’t be quite as much fun. I mean, who’s going to watch four hours of chicken breasts slowly coming up to temperature?
Slow cooking is often dismissed as “not real cooking”, but I disagree. It’s just another way to get the job done. Just like there’s no one way to write a story, there’s no one way to cook a meal. I’ve been using a slow cooker for many years and made many fine meals with the old girl.
Last weekend I picked up some boneless chicken breasts that were on sale and decided I’d try my hand at BBQ pulled chicken. I haven’t made this before and thought it might be fun. And unlike some of those cooking blogs that make you read through 1,000 words of backstory before getting to the point, I’ll give you the recipe, then show you the process. This is what I used to make this specific batch:
Pulled BBQ Chicken
- 3 lbs of boneless chicken
- Seasoning – salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder
- Chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock
- 3/4 cup Catsup
- 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
- 1/4 red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 TB Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/4 tsp of dry mustard
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Hot sauce to your liking
As I always say, you can customize either recipe (chicken or sauce) to your liking.
First, I chopped up a couple of Vidalia onions. I love the sweetness of them and they add a little body to the final dish.
Then I seasoned the breasts and added them. If I had thought ahead I would have seasoned the meat the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The dry rub is a great way to get flavor into something bland like chicken breasts, but they really need to sit for at least twelve hours for the seasoning to penetrate.
I then added about 1 1/2 cups of homemade vegetable stock. I would have added beer, but I was out. I’ve also read that adding Dr. Pepper (soda) is good. After that, I put the lid on, set the heat on low, and let it do what it does for about three and a half to four hours. Surprisingly, the breasts were ready to go at about the three and a half hour mark.
(A note here about the chicken: I’m partial to dark meat. It’s has more flavor than the white meat due to the fat content. Also, this means that it’s harder to overcook the dark meat. However, the breasts were on sale and, well, I can be cheap.)
I pulled them out and used a couple of sturdy forks to shred ’em. It’s the hardest part of the recipe, but also the most rewarding when finished.
I also used a colander to drain away the cooking liquid and retrieve those wonderful onions.
Then they all went back into the slow cooker. Now, for the sauce…
I made this the other night so it could chill in the fridge and allow the flavors to mingle. Unfortunately, it turned out to not be quite enough. The thing is, chicken breasts tend to be a dryer meat, so when I added the sauce to the slow cooker, the chicken meat sort of absorbed it.
Quick thinking saved the day. Not mine. My partner’s. She suggested I make more. I quickly dumped all the ingredients into a saucepan, turned the heat to medium, then kept stirring with a whisk until it was thick and bubbly…about ten to fifteen minutes. I added the extra sauce to the chicken in the slow cooker and let it simmer over low for another hour.
Despite the small miscalculation, the BBQ pulled chicken turned out to be quite nice.
Next time I’ll make more sauce before I begin. And I think I’ll add some horseradish to it. But hey, that’s how it goes in the kitchen. It’s all about creativity and trying new things, or trying old things in new ways.
I hope you give this a try. It hits all my favorite notes – fun, easy, and allows us to be creative.