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Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

If you enjoy pulled pork every so often, but don't always want to cook 4 to 5 pounds of meat, pulled chicken makes a great alternative. You need a few hours to make the dish, but the hands-on prep time is less than 10 minutes. With 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs we made 4 hearty sandwiches for dinner and reserved enough chicken to make a Buffalo Chicken Dip appetizer to serve 8. We topped the tender, juicy shreds of chicken with caramelized onions and served our sandwiches with oven fries and pickle spears.

Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

  • For the pulled chicken:
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • For the sandwiches:
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (store-bought or see recipe below)
  • 1 cup caramelized onions (instructions follow)
  • 4 soft, seeded sandwich rolls

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs and season both sides generously with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl combine the tomato puree, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire, garlic and onion. Stir to dissolve the sugar and set aside.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in an oven-proof pan large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned, 3 minutes per side. Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken and turn each of the thighs once or twice to coat them with the sauce. Cover the pan and bake for 2-1/2 hours, or until the chicken is tender and shreds easily.

Skim any visible fat from the pan, and using 2 forks, pull the chicken into shreds and combine with the cooking liquid. Keep about 2 cups of the chicken in the pan and reserve the rest for another recipe. Add the barbecue sauce and heat through.

Divide the mixture between the 4 rolls, top with caramelized onions and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Quick Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
  • Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Preparation:
In a small saucepan, combine the ketchup, sugar, honey, apple cider vinegar and hot sauce over medium heat. Cook until the sugar has dissolved, then add the bourbon. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and bubbly, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the butter until smooth.

Makes about 3/4 cup


How to Make Caramelized Onions

The following instructions should yield about 1 cup of caramelized onions. Double or triple the quantity as needed.

Get two large onions, about 2 pounds total. Peel them, then slice them thinly and separate into rounds. Heat 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions, cover the pan and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring 3 or 4 times during the process.

Remove the cover, raise the heat to medium and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of sugar. Continue cooking, uncovered, for about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring frequently and loosening any browned bits that may accumulate on the bottom of the pan. If the onions are sticking to the pan, try adding some liquid (water, broth, wine), one or two tablespoons at a time.

The onions should turn a deep golden brown color and have an almost marmalade-like consistency. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 2 days in a tightly covered container.

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