No. 165: Barbecue Pulled Chicken

My birthday gift from Mr. McC this year was my first Le Creuset French oven. I say 'first,' because how can you own just one!?

Le Creuset

I can't tell you how excited I was to go get it a few weeks ago. I had planned to use it sooner, but with work/wedding travel and lots of grilling on the docket, today was the first time it was put through its paces.

Barbecue Pulled Chicken

A big thank you to a long-time friend for passing this recipe from The Kitchn along. She has excellent taste, so I couldn't wait to make this.

8 to 10 servings
3 to 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, or a mix of thighs and breasts
Olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
12 (1 1/2 cups) ounces barbecue sauce, plus more for serving

To make

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the chicken from its packaging and pat it dry.

In a Dutch oven or heavy pot (with a lid) heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until quite soft. Add the smoked paprka and stir.

Paprika and onion

Add the chicken piece by piece, stirring to mix well with the onion.

Chicken and paprika

Stir in the salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Pour in the barbecue sauce and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat.

Chicken in sauce

Cover the pot with a heavy lid and put in the oven. Bake, covered, for 90 minutes, or until the chicken is extremely tender. Remove from the oven and use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken to a large bowl.

Tender chicken

Use two forks to shred the chicken finely. Meanwhile, put the sauce, uncovered, back on the stove over high heat.

Thickening sauce

Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid in the pan to about half of its volume. Pour this thickened sauce over the chicken and stir.

Serve with buns and extra barbecue sauce on the side. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Slow Cooker Instructions:
Follow the recipe as written above, but instead of putting the chicken and sauce in the oven, pour it all into a slow cooker. Cook for 5 to 7 hours on LOW.

The results

This chicken was the perfect meal to slow cook away while we watched the exciting Germany vs. Ghana World Cup match. Our house smelled divine the entire time it was in the oven.

Final sandwich

The adaptability of this recipe really lies in what barbecue sauce you choose. We love Gates Bar B.Q. sauce from Kansas City and tend to order it a couple times a year for a hometown feel. For this version we used store bought Kinder's, a sweet, mild Bay Area sauce. I'd love to try a really spicy one next time.

I also highly recommend you don't make this with only chicken breasts, no matter how health conscious you are. The fatty dark meat melting away for 90 minutes is what makes this chicken so very tender. At least mix in a few thighs if you just have to use breasts.

We skipped classic sides like homemade potato chips and slaw, but both would be amazing additions to these plates.

Overall, it doesn't get simpler than this for some pulled chicken goodness. Use the slow cooker version for an easy weeknight meal too!

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Amelia McCormick

Kansas girl transplanted to Asheville, North Carolina. Smiler, lover of great food and wine, facilitator, runner, storyteller, wife, optimist, and mother of sweet twins:)

Asheville, North Carolina