Pulled chicken: healthier, faster alternative
Barbecue shredded chicken: Inexpensive and relatively quick cooking, here's how to make a batch of tender, delicious pulled chicken in the oven or a slow cooker. (Faith Durand/TMS)
Today, let's talk chicken: Inexpensive and relatively quick cooking, chicken also has less fat and calories than beef or pork. Here's how to make a batch of tender and delicious pulled chicken in the oven or a slow cooker.
There is one key element: Use dark meat. Chicken breasts don't have enough fat to get soft while braising; they just aren't going to fall apart into soft threads the way a slightly fattier meat will. I like to use mostly boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which offer a light yet succulent texture. I do mix in a breast or too as well, about 25 to 30 percent of the total meat.
You can also opt to use bone-in chicken, but for me the whole point of this dish is for it to be extremely easy and hands-off, and the extra work of skinning and deboning the chicken isn't worth it.
Barbecue shredded chicken
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Servings: 8 to 10
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
3 to 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
12 ounces barbecue sauce, store-bought or homemade, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
Freshly ground pepper
Buns, slaw, avocado slices
1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic until quite soft, 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika. Add the chicken piece by piece, stirring to mix well with the onion. Stir in 12 ounces barbecue sauce, salt and pepper to taste; heat to a simmer.
2. Cover the pot; put it in the oven. Bake until the chicken is tender, 90 minutes. Remove from the oven; transfer chicken to a large bowl. shred finely with two forks.
3. Meanwhile, put the sauce, uncovered, back on the stove over high heat. Heat to a boil; reduce the liquid in the pan to about half of its volume. Pour this thickened sauce over the chicken; stir. Serve with buns, slaw, avocado and extra barbecue sauce on the side.
Slow cooker instructions:
Follow the recipe as written, but instead of putting the chicken and sauce in the oven, pour it all into a slow cooker. Cook on low, 5-7 hours. If you like, lift out the chicken and reduce the sauce in a saucepan on the stovetop.
Per serving: 267 calories, 12 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 89 mg cholesterol, 14 g carbohydrates, 25 g protein, 464 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.
Faith Durand is managing editor of the home cooking blog TheKitchn.com.
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