In New England, there’s a funny thing that happens to everyone when summer fades, the fall leaves all hit the ground and winter’s unmistakable bite is in the air.
Everyone gets upset.
“Ugh, it’s going to SNOW soon.”
“Not looking forward to snow, that’s for sure.”
“I can’t get used to this. What happened to summer?!?”
Well I’ll tell you what happened to summer. The seasons changed, just like they do every year, and now it’s winter.
It’s because of the general unhappiness about this well-known tradition in weather patterns that most people think I’m nuts for not regarding it with the same disdain.
But honestly all I can think about is winter cooking. It’s kind of like rediscovering your sweater collection after a summer of wearing dresses and shorts. It feels new and exciting and full of possibilities (I really like sweaters).
Out comes the crock pot. Slow cooking delicious veggies and meats all day long is one of the absolute best things about winter. Especially after a long, cold day hiking or snowshoeing, it’s all I can think about.
This pulled chicken dish was inspired by my recent trip to Syracuse, NY for a race. While there, my running travel buddy Kate and I went to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which is well-known for its authentic BBQ – and for good reason. It was a truly amazing meal.
I actually found Dinosaur BBQ bottled sauce at our local grocery store (that’s how famous it is), so even though it’s not pulled pork, this dish is still slathered in mouth-watering, lip-smackingly sweet and savory sauce that you’ll dream about when it’s gone.
What You Need:
- One whole chicken. Size doesn’t matter too much, as long as it’ll fit in your crock pot
- 1 yellow onion (or half a yellow and half a red, like I did)
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 jar of your favorite BBQ sauce – look for Dinosaur BBQ!
What You Do:
Slice the onion and lay the slices on the bottom of the crock pot, creating a bed on which the chicken will lie. This helps insulate the heat and keep the chicken from over cooking in one area over another.
So I skinned the chicken (messy business) and trimmed off some of the fat before I put it in the crock pot. If you like the skin, that’s up to you. It’ll save some time to leave it on, for sure. Just make sure to empty the insides. If you’ve ever made a Thanksgiving turkey, it’s the same deal.
Place the whole chicken over the bed of onions. Pour the vegetable broth over the whole thing, and then sprinkle with pepper.
Place the lid on there and set on high for 4 hours, or low for 6.
A good way to test if the chicken is “pulled chicken-ready” is to try pulling off a leg or something. If it pulls right off the bone, you’re good to go.
Using two large wooden spoons, lift the chicken out of the crock pot and place on a large cutting board. VERY CAREFULLY pull the meat apart, separating it into a large bowl. Pull out any and all bones you find. Some will be big and obvious, but there are a multitude of smaller, more hidden bones and/or hard cartilage parts that will make a giant mouthful of pulled chicken sandwich suddenly more of an ordeal than it should be.
Once you have separated the meat from the bones and pulled out all the bones you can find, use a fork to break it up further. I then used my hand to sift through the pulled chicken to double-check all the bones and hard part had been removed. This is a critical step so be extra careful.
Then, add your BBQ sauce! Be liberal and mix it around well with your fork.
Serve on two pieces of toasted bread and, of course, add more BBQ sauce if the mood strikes you!
Pro-Tip: Don’t mash too hard with the fork. Pulled chicken is pulled chicken, not chicken salad! 🙂