This 4th of July, try Pulled Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches and Coleslaw as the anchor of your party menu. The chicken can be grilled in advance and warmed in a crock-pot; leaving you more time with your family and friends. Tangy barbecue sauce is married-up with succulent pulled chicken for tender sandwiches topped with sweet coleslaw.
There is always plenty to do when getting ready to entertain. Even casual gatherings for a backyard barbecue can leave us scrambling for more ice or asking neighbors to rent their refrigerator space for all the cold salads and watermelons.
All this planning and preparation is supposed to make the time with our guests worry-free and relaxed. Then we light the grill and chain ourselves to the heat and smoke, while trying to carry on a polite, but distracted conversation. Burgers and hot dogs are great, but require attention when you would rather be visiting with the people you’ve spent nearly a week getting ready to host.
After all, a celebration of independence should be a more freeing experience. The 4th of July is a great time to plan a delicious, hassle-free menu that puts the greater emphasis on spending time with the people you’ve gathered together.
Barbecue Pulled Chicken Recipe
Cedar planks are a great way to bring a wood smoke flavor to gas grilling. Due to growing popularity, you can now find them at most stores, including Costco. This recipe can be made in advance and rewarmed in a crock-pot or oven.
8 whole chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed from half
salt and black pepper
2-3 cedar planks, soaked in water
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons oil
¼ cup water
¼ cup ketchup
¾ cup apple cider
1 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup molasses
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press
2 teaspoons chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Remove skin from half of the chicken thighs to reduce flare-ups while grilling. Score chicken with a knife in several places on each piece. Salt and pepper both sides of chicken pieces and return to the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
Soak cedar planks in water according to package directions, but at least 3 hours (this can be done the night before). Arrange cedar planks on a gas grill. Place chicken directly on planks over medium heat. Chicken can be moved off the planks to hotter spots on the grill if needed-the planks will provide a slower cooking process in general. If the planks char, that is okay so long as the chicken is not burning. When cooked through, transfer chicken to cutting board and let rest until cool enough to handle.
FOR THE SAUCE: This can be done in advance or while the chicken is cooling.
Process onion and water in a food processor until pureed. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer pressing on solids to extract liquid, yielding approximately 3/4 cup strained onion juice.
Whisk onion juice, ketchup, apple cider, Worcestershire, mustard, molasses, pepper, and cider vinegar together. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat; add garlic, chili powder, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in ketchup mixture and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until flavors meld and sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. You should have scant 4 cups sauce.
Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle, pull meat off bones discarding bones, skin and connective tissues. Pull the chicken meat apart with your fingers into shredded pieces. Mix in enough of the hot barbecue sauce to coat the meat and serve on whole wheat buns with the following Coleslaw recipe.
The slaw dressing can be adjusted to taste by adding a little more cider vinegar for more tang or more sugar to sweeten it up. When paired with the Pulled Barbecue Chicken, a little sweeter can be a great complement to the tangy sauce on the chicken.
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 cups shredded green cabbage (about 1/2 head)
3 cups shredded red cabbage (about 1/2 head)
½ green bell pepper, finely diced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
½ cup grated yellow onion
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, buttermilk, celery seeds, salt and pepper; whisk well to dissolve the sugar.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Toss with the dressing until evenly coated. Adjust seasoning, to taste. Place in the refrigerator, covered, to chill and meld flavors for at least 1 hour before serving.
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