Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pulled Chicken [Sandwiches]

For one year, when I was in college at UConn, my childhood friend Evan's apartment was right down the road. It was always fun having him around, but one of my most memorable weekends was when a huge storm rolled through. Forecasters promised 18"-24" of snow. The plan? Get lots of beer, get snowed in, and go riding around in Evan's Jeep Wrangler the next day. Really, I couldn't think of a better way to spend a snow day.

The only thing missing was the perfect meal. Something easy, warm, filling, and containable... pulled pork. It was the icing on the cake, really.

It dumped 1/2" of snow in the 15 minutes I was in the food store today. Nothing says crock-pot meals like a snow squall. I worked all weekend, I worked today, I've been running around like a crazy person... this meal plan is perfect for today.

Now, my recipe has (thank God) evolved a bit from my days at UConn, and there are even a few different variations.

I wanted to go for the epitome of hot/sweet/smoky, and so I concocted a Pineapple-Habanero Barbecue Sauce. Keeping with the healthy, I pulled chicken instead of pork. But no matter how you slice it, this is a damn good dish.

Pineapple-Habanero Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
You can cook this in a crock pot on high or low heat (preferable), but if you're short on time you can do it in a dutch oven on the stove.

5 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 15oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Habanero Pepper
1 can of Pineapple Chunks (if you can go fresh, by all means, go for it)
1 Sweet Spanish Onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
2 Chipotle Peppers (or 2 tblsp. Chipotle Seasoning)
3 tblsp Vegetable Oil
Juice of 1 Lime

Romain Lettuce, Pepper-Jack or Cheddar Cheese, Fresh Cilantro, Bulkie Rolls

1) Put 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, 1/2 the chopped onion, 1/2 the pineapple chunks (with liquid), habanero pepper, and chicken in a crock pot (or dutch oven) set to low, and place the lid on.

2) In a sauce pan, saute the rest of the onion, chipotle peppers, and pineapple in remaining oil until the onion is soft.

3) Add tomatoes, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and lime juice, bringing to a boil.

4) Reduce to a simmer with the lid off, let the sauce reduce until it is thick and all of the ingredients are fully married, about an hour. (Taste to test. It should be tangy with a little kick, subtly smoky, and not too tomato-y).

5) Add the sauce to the chicken, which should be fairly well cooked by now. Let the chicken cook in the sauce until it is very tender and pulls apart easily (about an hour on the stove, two in the crock pot set on high).

6) Shred the chicken breasts by pulling apart with two forks. Keep going until all of the chicken is thoroughly shredded, and there are no big chicken pieces left.

7) If you are using the crock pot, drain some of the liquid and continue to cook. On stove top I like to keep it simmering with the lid off for another 30-40 minutes so that the chicken is thickly coated in the sauce.

8) Serve on toasted bulkie rolls with lettuce, pepper-jack cheese, and cilantro.

I'm telling you: Light a fire, turn on a game. It's cold outside, you're warm inside. Plus, you've got a dynamite sandwich.

Jenny 1 : Winter 0
Bring it.

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