Smoked Pulled Chicken! This is way too easy for one of my profanity laced Suds intros. Come on I could go wild with this one all day. Instead I am going to take the high road skip the “choking the chicken” and rooster references and give you a pretty easy pulled chicken recipe that you can prepare in your oven or on your grill.
I am also going to pair it up with a world class beer. The only thing you need to bring to the table today is time and patience.
There are going to be a few variables in this recipe feel free to use all or any of them. Keep in mind that the more short cuts you use the further you will get from the original recipe. Also please read the whole recipe before getting started because some the changes affect the order of ingredients.
The first ingredient of interest is the chicken. What makes this recipe a little different is the chicken is cooked before we start our recipe. How you cook your chicken is going to be a huge factor in how your Pulled Chicken comes out. Here are your ingredients.
3 lbs of boneless chicken breasts or thighs
1 tbls Paprika (maybe Smoked Paprika)
1 tbls Kosher Salt (or table salt)
1 tbls of Crushed black pepper (or ground black pepper)
2 Cups of Open Pit BBQ Sauce
1/3 cup of English Malt Vinegar (white vinegar, wine vinegar or balsimic vinegar)
1 small onion
7-8 cloves of fresh garlic
1 tspn crushed red pepper flakes
I would suggest smoking your chicken. I know most of you don’t have a smoker, that’s all good neither do I. I do my smoking right on my grill. We will also cover cooking this chicken in your stove.
Don’t get caught up in trimming the fat on the chicken. The two cooking processes will melt the fat it also adds a lot of flavor. Before adding the Chicken to the grill the chicken should be sprinkled with kosher salt, cracked pepper, red pepper and paprika. You can of course use table top salt and pepper if need be but next time you are in the supermarket spend a buck and get some kosher salt.
The chicken and the coals should not share the same real estate. The coals and wood go on one side of the grill the chicken on the other. Use the same technique for gas grills. If time is a factor simply grill the chicken and move on. Finely chop a small onion and 7 -8 cloves of garlic and add it to the chicken after it is on the grill. If you add it before hand it will not stick to the chicken and you will have a mess.
*If you do not have fresh garlic and onion a sprinkle of garlic and onion powder will work.
Cover the grill and sit back for a half hour to 40 minutes. One of the great things about this recipe is it is hard to over or under cook the chicken seeing it is going to simmer in water and BBQ sauce for a hour.
*If you do not have access to a grill because you live in a loft somewhere on the Upper East Side you can roast your chicken in the oven. The only difference in the recipe if you are going to roast the chicken is either use smoked paprika or add a couple of drops of liquid smoke to a ¼ cup of water and brush it on the chicken before adding the salt and pepper.
Before the chicken comes off of the grill there is one last step. Flip your chicken over so that now it is garlic\onion side down on the grill for a quick minute directlly over the coals and wood. Just long enough to get a little char on the chicken and the garlic. Charred garlic has an awesome bitter taste that will later play off of our hops. This also adds some texture to our samich. *Apartment dwellers can pop the chicken under the broiler real quick garlic side up.
Tear the chicken into big chunks don’t chop it use your hands. Remembe we are making “pulled” chicken not chopped chicken. Add the chicken to a pot with about 5 cups of water, 2 cups of BBQ sauce and a 1/3 of a cup of English malt vinegar.
I use Open Pit Barbeque sauce. No they don’t pay me or send me free sauce I simply think it tastes best for these types of recipes. It is also one of the cheapest. If you can’t find, don’t like Open Pit use your favorite sauce, try to keep away from the overly sweet sauces and go with something zesty.
Bring the mixture to a robust boil for about 10 minutes. Here is where the waiting game starts drop the chicken to a simmer and watch closely. You want the water/sauce mixture to thicken and the chicken to start to fall apart. Hopefully this should happen at around the same time but don’t be surprised if you have to add more water or turn up the heat at the end to quickly reduce the sauce.
You will also start to see a glaze on top of the chicken that is the fat/flavor rising to the top. This is when you start to break up the chicken pieces with a spatula or spoon and all of a sudden pulled chicken starts to appear in the pot.
There are a ton of serving and side dish options for your pulled chicken. This could even be one stop on the path of another recipe let’s say smoked chicken croquets or pulled chicken empanadas. You can even simply dig in with a fork. For me today it is all about the samich.
For sides I would suggest collared greens, cole slaw, baked beans or sweet potato fries. I am going a little more traditional seeing this is lunch. I am going to opt for a dill pickle and a modest handful of potato chips.
Pairing this samich is a bit tricky. Usually with chicken I would lean towards a lighter body beer. There are a few parameters with our chicken that steer me away from that school of thinking. First off remember when we charred the garlic, that bitterness needs a lot of hops to play off of. We also have the char on the chicken to consider. We have a lot of spiciness coming from the black pepper, red pepper, BBQ sauce and un-charred garlic.
There is also the sweetness of the chicken and the BBQ sauce to consider. I decided to go with Stone Brewing Company Oaked Bastard Ale. The wood in the nose of this beer plays off of the hickory in my samich nicely. While the hops stand up to the spicy aspects of the samich there is enough malt here to play off the sweetness. The caramel flavors in the malt compliment roasted toasted grilled chicken perfectlly.
Polishing off this duo is way too easy. Great sandwich, great beer.
So that wraps another Suds
Enjoy your Samich