BBQ Pulled Chicken
Chicken pecs. They should be called, “Chicken pecs.” Referring to the meat we eat as “Chicken breast” unnecessarily sensualizes an otherwise-G-rated foodstuff, though, I guarantee that this sweetly-spicy, sultrily-saucy pulled chicken can certainly heat up a room! I honestly feel a bit uncomfortable ordering “grilled chicken breast” in mixed company, especially when my parents are present (just in case you were wondering, I was the product of binary fission). When you really look at it, nothing could be less titillating than a thawed hunk of raw chicken muscle. Fun fact: dental students learn oral suturing techniques on raw chicken breast — put that in your slow-cooker and braise it!
Whatever you call it, let it be known that properly-cooked chicken breast [insert eye-roll here] can shred just as beautifully as the finest pork butt — seriously, who names these cuts of meat??? Men.
A long, slow cook in a flavorful bath of gently-simmering liquid does wonders for even the blandest of white meats. Once cooked, a good sneeze is enough to reduce your perfectly-poached poultry pectorals to shreds, but really, you should use two forks to break up the meat instead of you own sternutation #infectioncontrol
Whether served on a good kaiser roll, topped with shredded cheddar, or in a warm hot dog roll, slathered in homemade coleslaw, this recipe is certainly a winner winner chicken dinner! Just promise me me one thing: you will always toast and butter your buns.
BBQ Pulled Chicken
3 Chicken breasts, thawed completely, and patted dry with a paper towel
1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, halved, then sliced in thin rings
2 ribs of celery (from the tender inner-portion of the bunch), thinly sliced, on the bias (diagonally)
3 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue or wing sauce
2 – 3 cups cola, depending on the size of your pot
Combine the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl and massage into the chicken. Wrap rubbed chicken breasts (don’t you hear how odd that sounds?!) tightly in plastic wrap, and chill 1 to 4 hours. Thoroughly clean all chicken-contaminated surfaces/extremities.
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat butter and oil together until melted. Add onion, celery, salt & pepper, and saute until onions soften and just start to turn translucent, ~3-4 minutes over medium-high heat. Add garlic, and saute 30 seconds. Nestle chicken on top of vegetables. Pour barbecue or wing sauce over the chicken, then add enough cola to cover the chicken. [Note: for a saucier result, feel free to use twice the amount of sauce recommended here and use less cola to compensate] Bring to a boil, then cover with a tightly-fitting lid, reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer, untouched, for 4-5 hours.
Remove chicken to a large plate or cutting board, and turn heat under pot up to medium-high. Allow sauce to simmer vigorously while you shred the chicken. Use two forks to shred the chicken into uniformly-sized pieces. For the most part, the chicken will shred itself; you’re really just encouraging it with the forks. Once the sauce has reduced by approximately half, add shredded chicken back to the pot, and toss to coat.
Serving recommendation: Plop on warm, buttered rolls, topped with shredded cheddar and a side of Asian slaw (a personal favorite)