When it comes to making pulled chicken, it's hard to beat the two-ingredient simplicity of simmering chicken breasts in a bottle of barbecue sauce.
On plenty of weeknights, that's my go-to dinner. Add some bread (buns, whole-wheat tortillas, or even just lettuce leaves) and call it a filling — and crazy delicious — dinner.
But for a Super Bowl party, I wanted something a little bigger, a little bolder, a lot more interesting, but not a lot more work. After all, the point is to sit in front of the television, not mind the stove. And that meant a DIY barbecue sauce was out of the question. Though hardly difficult to make, making them well calls for many ingredients. And that slows things down.
That got me thinking about how I could combine just a few big-flavoured ingredients. I was inspired by two things — a recipe for marmalade glazed chicken wings I'd read recently, and the many iterations of jam-glazed meatballs that inevitably show up at potluck feasts.
What I ended up with was a sweet-and-savoury pulled chicken that can be done on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. For the slow cooker version, combine the chicken and sauce ingredients as described below, then cook on high for six hours. You'll then need to transfer everything to a saucepan to boil for a few minutes to reduce the liquid.
I serve these on slider-size buns, but you could easily use hot dog buns, baguette sections, flour tortillas, or whatever you prefer.
Creamy Mango-Marmalade Pulled Chicken Sliders
Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours (30 minutes active)
1.15 kg (2 1/2 lb) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 l (4 cups) chicken broth
1 jar (396 g/14 oz) mango-pepper jelly
125 ml (1/2 cup) orange marmalade
50 ml (1/4 cup) cider vinegar
5 ml (1 tsp) ground cumin
5 ml (1 tsp) sweet or smoked paprika
5 ml (1 tsp) garlic powder
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground black pepper
250 ml (1 cup) sour cream
1 pkg (500 g/16 oz) shredded cabbage coleslaw mix
150 ml (2/3 cup) mayonnaise
Hot sauce, to taste
12 dinner rolls or other small buns, split
In a large saucepan over medium-high, combine chicken, broth, jelly, marmalade, vinegar, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Continue cooking sauce for another 10 minutes or until considerably reduced and thickened.
Meanwhile, use 2 sets of tongs or 1 set and a fork to pull apart and shred chicken breasts. Once liquid has reduced, return chicken to saucepan and mix with sauce. Simmer until heated through, then remove pan from heat. Stir in sour cream, then set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together coleslaw mix, mayonnaise and hot sauce.
Serve chicken on buns topped with coleslaw.
Makes 12 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 410 calories; 100 calories from fat 24 per cent of total calories); 11 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 70 mg cholesterol; 53 g carbohydrate; 26 g protein; 2 g fibre; 690 mg sodium.
Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook "High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking." Follow him to great eats on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch or email him at jhirsch(at)ap.org.