It is a fantasy of mine that my husband and I and our two daughters someday find ourselves in the kitchen, cooking together in orchestrated harmony. One person moving from counter to stove while the other steps from sink to pantry. There will be mixing and sizzling, laughing and joking. The girls will be setting the table, forks on the left, spoons on the right, with ONE napkin per person.
This vision may yet become a reality, but I’ve come to the realization that I’m a bit of a kitchen hog. I also like to, to put it nicely, experiment. That can of white beans, or bag of lentils, or half a box of pasta will not go to waste! Why, I can build a whole meal around those with a carrot, an onion or two, and some ingenuity.
My husband on the other hand is a man of science. His head is ruled by logic. My “dash of this, sprinkle of that” just doesn’t make sense to him. And while he appreciates my culinary successes, he also appreciates that practice makes perfect. And there is one cooking enterprise out there that tests things five ways from Sunday just to make sure that the recipes they present will be — and always are — perfect. And that would be Cook’s Illustrated.
It should be understandable, then, that a good number of the dishes we make start on that website or a dog-eared copy of the magazine. While I may champion the creative spirit, I’m no dummy: good is good. Especially when you have two little girls poking it around their plates.
And so, that is how we arrived at the most delicious, go-back-for-seconds pulled chicken sandwiches. You may know them at BBQ chicken sandwiches, or shredded chicken sandwiches. Regardless, they are the PERFECT use for leftover hickory-smoked chicken thighs…and even a good reason to make them in the first place.
Now, Cook’s Illustrated is a fine establishment, but they do protect their product. In October of 2012 The New York Times Magazine published an article on Cooks Illustrated and editor Christopher Kimball that is definitely worth a read. If you haven’t subscribed to their website or downloaded their app I suggest you do, and pay the associated fee. You’ll more than make up for it with complements on these sandwiches alone, which you’ll find quite easily on their website by searching for Barbecued Pulled Chicken. But if that’s not your cup of tea, you can find reasonably good versions of homemade barbecue sauce which can be substituted for the version on their site (which includes grated onion, apple cider, mustard, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, ketchup, and several other wonderful additions).
Ingredients for the sandwich are:
6 (or more) hickory-smoked chicken thighs
1 cup homemade barbecue sauce
8 snowflake or hamburger rolls (try to get ones that don’t have a shelf life of, say, six months…something a little more artisanal will make your taste buds very happy)
1/4 white or red onion, thinly sliced
1 whole dill pickle, thinly sliced
Remove and discard the chicken skin and shred chicken meat. Meanwhile, heat barbecue sauce in large saucepan on the stove. Add shredded chicken to saucepan and heat through. Serve pulled chicken on cut rolls with onion and pickle slices. Yum.
Parent rating. Yum yum yum yum yum yum. That would be five stars. Plus one more yum for good measure.
Kid rating: Four stars. Daughter 1 actually doesn’t LIKE barbecue sauce. But whereas she turned up her nose at the hickory-smoked chicken when it was first served, she ate two whole sandwiches of plain shredded chicken on rolls. Daughter 2 ate her sandwich completely, leaving only some chicken behind. She may have eventually polished it off if it weren’t for the beet-squishing that I mentioned in my earlier post. Maybe next time.