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-flavored 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-savory 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 6 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)
2 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 cups chicken broth
13 1/2-ounce jar mango-pepper jelly
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream
16-ounce package shredded cabbage coleslaw mix
2/3 cup mayonnaise
Hot sauce, to taste
12 dinner rolls or other small buns, split
In a large saucepan over medium-high, combine the chicken, broth, jelly, marmalade, vinegar, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Continue cooking the 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 the chicken breasts. Once the liquid has reduced, return the chicken to the saucepan and mix with the sauce. Simmer until heated through, then remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the sour cream, then set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the coleslaw mix, mayonnaise and hot sauce.
Serve the chicken on the buns topped with coleslaw.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 410 calories; 100 calories from fat 24 percent of total calories); 11 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 70 mg cholesterol; 53 g carbohydrate; 26 g protein; 2 g fiber; 690 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: 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.