Well, I found my blogging britches...sort of. But they are in dire need of some cleaning and repairs. Actually, I could use a fresh new pair for a new look, but I'll have to make do for now. One would think with summer vacation underway, I would have more time to blog. Not! Twice this week I had intentions to write this post, but instead I was busy with, "Mom, what are we going to do today?" and "Mom, can we paint my room?" and "Mom, we need new clothes" and "Mom, can we brush the dogs' teeth?"(--say what? Yeah, we have two dogs). Not to mention driving to and from friends' houses and soccer practice (yep, still going) around a town where it seems that every other street is either blocked or closed due to construction and a weekend festival going on (grrr--sorry for the venting)! And it probably didn't help that any free time that I did have it was spent with my nose in a book-- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a twisted good read.
Anyway, here I am sharing a recipe because I need to, I want to, and because it is really darn good! You know that I am a big fan of smoked meats. But sometimes that whole process of smoking can be quite labor intensive (which is why I usually make it in large batches and freeze it). However, this recipe is not. Tender, dark chicken leg quarter meat is smoked with wood chunks instead of logs. The whole cooking process takes about an hour, unlike the 9 to 11 hours that other smoked meats can take. Bonus for a weeknight dinner or when you just want to enjoy all the outdoor weekend festivities. Pile up the finished product on some good homemade or bakery buns and serve with some creamy coleslaw, a few chips or even some sweet summer corn-on-the-cob. This is a meal fit for a king-- the king of the house for Father's Day that is!
Barbecue Pulled Chicken
For the Chicken
4 (3-inch) wood chunks, soaked in water for 2 hours
Disposable aluminum roasting pan
10 bone-in, skin-on chicken leg quarters (about 4 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Sauce
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 medium cloves garlic, finely grated on a microplane
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup mild molasses
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, divided
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire
3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Chicken
Light a large chimney starter filled three-quarters full with hardwood charcoal and burn until coals are covered with a thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Empty and divide coals in half to create piles on opposite sides of the grill. Place the disposable pan in the center between the coal piles. Nestle one soaked wood chunk on top of each pile. Position clean cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat until grates are hot, about 5 minutes. Oil grate.
Season both sides of chicken legs with salt and pepper. Place chicken legs skin side up in a single layer on center of grill over roasting pan. Cover and cook for 30 minutes (internal grill temperature should register 325º F after 30 minutes).
Working quickly to prevent excess heat loss, remove cover and, using tong, rotate each leg so that the side facing inward now faces coals; do not flip chicken pieces. Add a second wood chunk to each pile of coals; cover and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thighs registers about 185º F, about 30-40 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to cutting board. Cover with a sheet of aluminum foil and let rest until to cool enough to handle.
For the Sauce
While the chicken is cooking and cooling, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the chili powder, garlic, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ketchup, apple cider, molasses, 3 tablespoons of the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and pepper; stirring until combined. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until flavors meld and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend the sauce until desired consistency. You should have about 4 cups of sauce. Transfer 2 cups of sauce to a serving bowl; leave remaining sauce in the saucepan.
Remove and discard skin from chicken quarters. Using fingers, pull the meat off the bones, separating larger pieces from smaller pieces. Coarsely chop smaller pieces and transfer to sauce in the saucepan. Using fingers or 2 forks, pull larger chicken pieces into long shreds and add to saucepan. Stir in remaining tablespoon of vinegar and heat chicken over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve, passing the remaining sauce separately. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Cook's Illustrated: Entertaining Summer 2011