Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Pulled chicken sandwich with cole slaw and pickles
Here's another easy chicken
recipe for the new Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker owner. No fancy rub used
here—just salt and pepper to season the meat and a favorite
barbecue sauce mixed in afterwards. You don't even have to pay attention
to the cooker's temperature!
This pulled chicken is adapted
for the WSM from a recipe featured on the PBS Television series
Americas Test Kitchen.
Click on any of the pictures to
view a larger image.
What You'll Need For
This recipe may not turn out well if you do not use Kingsford
Charcoal Briquettes and a Weber Chimney Starter for measuring the
amount of charcoal used.
Choose The Smoke Wood
Each smoke wood
chunk should be small, for example 3" x 2" x 2" or similar.
Use three chunks of oak, apple,
cherry, or other mild fruit wood. As an alternative, you can use two
chunks of any of these and one chunk of hickory.
If fruit wood is
not available, use only two chunks of
hickory, but be aware that some people find it overpowering when
Do not use mesquite for this recipe.
There is no need to
soak the wood or remove the bark before use.
Learn More Later: All About Smoke Woods
Prepare The Chicken
Depending on the
region where you live, this cut of chicken is called
"whole chicken legs" or "leg quarters". It
consists of the drumstick and thigh with a portion of the backbone
attached. Some grocery stores sell "chicken legs" with the backbone
portion already removed; buy this if you don't want to fuss with the
trimming described below and don't mind paying a bit more.
The price of whole
chicken legs varies greatly depending on where and how you buy it.
Here are some prices I found near my home:
- 39˘/pound: 10
pound bag, frozen generic brand, at Wal-Mart
6 pound Styrofoam tray, fresh regional brand, at Costco
Purchased by the pound, fresh local brand, at a high-end grocery
Once you've got 6-8
pounds of whole chicken legs, remove the backbone
from each piece as follows:
- Grasp the
chicken thigh in one hand, meat-side facing up.
- Grasp the
backbone with your other hand and bend it backwards until the
end of the thigh bone pops out (circled in Picture 2, click for
a larger image). This exposes the joint between the thigh and
- Place the
knife blade in the joint at the end of the thigh bone, parallel
to the backbone. Tip the blade slightly toward the thigh bone
(diagrammed in Picture 3, click for a larger image).
- Cut through to
remove the backbone (Picture 4).
- Trim any large
pockets of fat.
- Leave the skin
on the chicken. Although it will be removed later, it helps keep
the meat moist during cooking.
Sprinkle a moderate
amount of salt and black pepper on both sides of the chicken pieces.
Learn More Later:
Chicken Selection & Preparation
Light a full Weber chimney
starter of Kingsford charcoal briquettes:
Loosely roll a
double-wide sheet of newspaper on the diagonal from the upper left
corner to the lower right corner. Bring the ends together to form a
circle that fits inside the bottom of the chimney (Picture 1). Repeat
with a second sheet of newspaper.
Put the rolled
the bottom of the chimney (Picture 2).
- Place the
chimney on the charcoal grate and fill to the top with
briquettes. Light the newspaper in several locations with a long
match or a butane lighter (Picture 3). Two sheets of newspaper is usually
sufficient to get things started under normal conditions. If not, repeat the process with additional sheets of newspaper.
- It will take 15-20 minutes for the coals to light. You'll know
when flames are licking at the briquettes at the top of the
chimney and they're just starting to turn gray (Picture 4).
Spread the hot
coals evenly over the
charcoal grate (Picture 5).
Place the smoke wood chunks on
top of the coals (Picture 6).
- Put the
empty water pan in the middle cooking section.
- Insert the
middle cooking section into the charcoal bowl.
- Put the
top cooking grate in place.
You're now ready
Learn More Later:
Firing Up Your Weber Bullet and
How To Use A Chimney Starter
Arrange the chicken
skin-side up on the grate and put the lid in place.
Set the lid vent
and the three bottom vents 100% open and leave them that way
throughout the entire cooking process.
Cook the chicken
for 60 minutes. No peeking allowed!
After 60 minutes,
check the internal meat temperature using an
instant-read thermometer. Continue cooking until the thigh
registers about 180°F.
This temperature is
a bit higher than if you were cooking a whole chicken and were
concerned about drying out the white meat. Since there's no white
meat here and you'll be adding sauce after cooking, 180°F works
just fine in this recipe.
Pull The Chicken
Remove the chicken
from the cooker and let cool for 15 minutes or until you can
handle it comfortably.
While the meat cools,
pour your favorite barbecue sauce into a sauce pan—1/4 cup (2
ounces) of sauce for each pound of chicken (pre-cooked weight). Warm
the sauce gently on the stovetop.
Prepare the pulled
chicken as follows:
- Remove the
skin and discard.
- Using your
fingers, pull the meat off the bones. Put the large pieces in
one pile and the small pieces in another pile (Picture 1). Any
dry but edible bits can go into the small pile. Discard the fat,
gristle, tendons, and bones.
- Using your
fingers, pull the large pieces into long shreds (Picture 2, left
Step: Place the small pieces in a food processor and chop
coarsely, about 3 one-second pulses, stirring with a spatula
between each pulse. This produces a coarse texture that blends
nicely with the long shredded pieces and holds the sauce better
(Picture 2, right pan).
- Combine all
the meat into a separate large sauce pan.
- Add warm sauce
to the meat 1/4 cup at a time, stirring between each addition.
You want to add quite a bit of sauce to the meat, but not so
much that it becomes soupy. Just keep adding 1/4 cup at a time
until you like what you see. Reserve any remaining sauce.
- Heat the
sauced meat over medium heat until it's warmed through. If you
added too much sauce, just heat uncovered to reduce the sauce to
your preferred consistency.
Toast some nice,
soft hamburger buns, put 4-5 ounces of pulled chicken on each sandwich,
drizzle with some warm leftover sauce, if desired, and serve
with cole slaw and pickle slices on the side.
Picture 4 shows the
nice texture you get from the hand-pulled large pieces and the
coarse mixture from the food processor.
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