Apr 29, 2014

Slow Cooked Pulled Chicken

People might think the microwave is the greatest modern item in the kitchen, but to me its the CrockPot slow-cooker or any brand of that breed.
Many folks enjoy pulled-pork sandwiches, but have you used the “other” white meat – chicken?
The drier white meat of that common poultry that provides meat and eggs, holds the tangy sauce well and the flavor is great smoked on a grill.
Most recipes call for tossing raw chicken or chicken pieces sauteed and then cooked for hours in some type of bottled barbecue sauce. It's okay, but let's face it, sometimes scratch is best.
The advantage of using a slow cooker is obvious for people on the go, where you can slow cook something while at work or doing needed chores around the house, like cutting the grass or if you live where I am – shoveling snow.
Stews and other hearty meals, full of nutrients, protein and the stuff that is good for you comes out tasty in a crock pot.
You can use all the parts of a chicken, but I find that the white meat from chicken breasts and thighs do best. Some people leave the skin on allegedly to keep from overcooking; and add all the meat from a whole chicken.
As far as sauce, total scratch is nice, but its nicer when you can just pour in the ingredients, stir and be done with it, careful that the sauce is not too thin. Solution: use tomato paste with ketchup. A dash of liquid smoke provides the smoky flavor along with the molasses (if you like a sweeter sauce), brown mustard, and carefully measured cayenne pepper that gets surprisingly strong when used in slow cooking recipes.
You can “nuke” whole onion pieces in the microwave, or the traditional pan saute; but since I like onions and they do not like me (green onions I seem to tolerate), you can use dried onion flakes or onion powder, or both if that is your liking.
The following recipe serves about ten and is derived from the recipe of Sarah Gabriel's test kitchen at Cook's Country.
Choose whatever sauce you like, but make sure it is mild. Remember the slow cooker warning.
5 (10- to 12-ounce) split chicken breasts, trimmed
7 (3 ounces) boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and Pepper
1 onion, chopped fine OR one teaspoon of chopped dried onion flakes/powder
1/2-cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil (or vegetable oil, if you use that like Sarah)
4 teaspoons chili powder
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-cup ketchup [Suggest Heinz Organic Tomato Ketchup)
1/3-cup molasses (or less if you do not like it to sweet, like me)
2 tablespoons brown mustard
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
2- to 4 teaspoons hot sauce
¾ teaspoon liquid smoke
10 hamburger buns or Kaiser rolls

  1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine onion, tomato paste, oil, chili powder, garlic, and cayenne in bowl and put in microwave for 3 minutes until softened, stirring halfway through. Put mixture in the slow cooker pot and whisk in ketchup, molasses, mustard, and vinegar. Add chicken to the slow cooker pot and toss to combine with sauce. Cover and cook on low until chicken shreds easily with a fork, about 5 hours.
  2. Transfer cooked chicken to a carving board and tent loosely with aluminum foil, let rest for 15 minutes. Use a large spoon and skim fat from surface of sauce. Whisk hot sauce and liquid smoke into sauce and cover to keep warm. Remove and discard chicken skin (if you did not remove it before cooking). Roughly chop thigh meat into 1/2-inch pieces. Use two forks to shred breast meat into 1/2-inch pieces. Return meat to slow cooker and toss to coat with sauce. Serve on buns.
My version is chop chicken before cooking in slow cooker, then there is no need to fuss with it on a carving board. Slow cooking about five to six hours until right texture, if skin is removed and cut. I like the old-fashioned saute method rather than the nuking thing. The idea of using a slow cooker is that you mix in the ingredients, walk away, with only having to mix it about one hour before being done. Like stew.
Recipes can always be customized, so do a little testing in your kitchen or from a known family recipe.

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