I've been neglecting this space which makes me sad. This doesn't mean I haven't been cooking - I've been cooking a lot (the produce is utterly outstanding this year). Yet most of what I've been making are those thrown together meals I'm known for. Broccoli tacos (don't knock it till you try it), sauteed cherries (best served over ice cream or even yogurt), kale pesto (superb with fresh mozzarella and the first heirloom tomatoes of the season) and clean out the fridge pasta dishes. Tyler refers to these as my best meals and always encourages me to share them here, but when you're rushing to get dinner together, it's not easy to keep track of how many teaspoons of ancho powder you just added to the pot.
Which isn't to say I don't have a small pile of recipes scattered around the apartment that are begging to be made. I finally tackled a few earlier this week. BBQ pulled chicken has been on my mind for a while now as I keep looking for ways to feel as if I am BBQing even if I don't have access to a grill. This recipe can be made in the comforts of your own home and tastes just as good as chicken made on the grill. I recommend serving it on potato rolls with homemade pickles (my favorite recipe here) and a side of corn - it's outdoor cooking for the indoors.
Smoky Pulled Barbecue Chicken
Recipe adapted (slightly) from Serious Eats
The chicken itself is amazing. Tender, moist, and succulent. The sauce while good, was a little sweet for my tastes and not quite vinegary enough (though Tyler loved it). I suggest dialing back the sugar by starting with the lesser amounts of apple juice, brown sugar, and honey. Taste (before bringing to a boil and simmering), and add more as necessary. If you have similar tastes to me - add some extra hot sauce and apple cider vinegar. Then slather on everything all summer long.
For the Chicken and Rub
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons hot smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 whole chicken, halved and backbones discarded or reserved for another use
For the Sauce
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1 small onion)
1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic (about 1 medium cloves)
3/4 cups ketchup
1/3 - 1/2 cup apple juice
1 -2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 -2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sandwich rolls and pickles, for serving (optional)
For the Chicken and Rub: Mix together salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Season chicken halves all over with rub and refrigerate for at least 6 and up to 12 hours.
For the Sauce: Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned around the edges, about 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in ketchup, apple juice, brown sugar, honey, vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, soy sauce, and hot sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Puree sauce with an immersion blender, or transfer sauce to the jar of a standard blender, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. If not using right away, transfer to a jar and store in refrigerator.
Fire up smoker or grill to 225°F. Add wood chunk to smoker following manufacturer's instructions, or set wood chunk on top of embers if using a grill. Place chickens in smoker or on grill over indirect heat, and cook until breast meat registers 160°F on an instant read thermometer, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from smoker and let chickens rest until cool enough to handle.
This can also be done in the oven. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Place chicken in an ovenproof dish and cook for about 1 ½ hours or until the breast meat registers 160°F on an instant read thermometer.
Using hands or two forks, pull chicken into thin strands, discarding skin, cartilage, and excess fat.
Measure out 3/4 cup of barbecue sauce and set aside. Reheat remaining barbecue sauce in a large saucepan. Stir shredded chicken into hot barbecue sauce and cook until chicken is warmed throughout. Serve immediately on sandwich rolls with reserved barbecue sauce and pickles, if desired.