I have a few rules for entertaining. First, whatever I cook needs to multiply well. Giant pot of soup: easy. Giant assortment of individually-made pizzas? That's a little more labor-intensive. Dishes that feed a crowd and can also be prepared ahead of time are even better.
This faux-barbecue pulled chicken is far from authentic, but it's delicious, easy to make, and perfect for advance prep. Throw everything in a six-quart slow cooker overnight, pull the meat in the morning, then refrigerate until your guests arrive. Heat it up when you're ready to eat.
We served it with cheesy scallion biscuits, but it would be awesome as a sandwich filling, on top of grits, or along with a big scoop of macaroni and cheese.
We used a smoky and spicy Märzen Rauchbier along with a can of chipotles in adobo to enhance the rich and smoky flavor of the sauce. If you haven't tasted this beer before, you're in for a surprise—it's a bit like drinking liquid bacon. Sweet apricot jam and tangy cider vinegar round out the cooking liquid.
Although we shredded the chipotles along with the chicken before serving, this isn't a particularly spicy dish, so you'll probably want to serve it with hot sauce on the side.
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard (I used Colman's)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup apricot jam
- 1 7.5 ounces can chipotle in adobo
- 1 cup smoked beer (I used Aecht Schlenkerla Märzen Rauchbier)
- 5.5 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
- Hot sauce for serving
In a large bowl, stir together tomato sauce, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, and cumin. Add apricot jam and stir until no clumps of jam remain. Add entire contents of chipotle in adobo can and stir to distribute.
Place chicken in a 6-quart slow cooker. Pour sauce over and add beer, stir to coat chicken and distribute. Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours.
When chicken is done, turn off slow cooker and lift each piece of chicken from the sauce with a slotted spoon or tongs. Shred chicken using two forks, placing shredded chicken in a 6-qt pot. Shred chipotles along with the chicken, or discard for a milder dish. Defat cooking liquid using a fat separator (or skim fat from the slow cooker before pouring onto chicken.) Refrigerate chicken in the sauce at this point if you're serving later, or reheat immediately to serve, along with hot sauce if desired.