Soft, fluffy potato buns and a quick vinegar slaw work as the perfect vehicles to cut the richness of the meat, and they turn the sandwiches into the ultimate tailgate sliders.
FOR THE BARBECUE CHICKEN:
4 to 5 pounds skinless chicken thighs (I use a mix of boneless and bone-in)
Southern spice rub (recipe below)
1/2 cup pilsner-style beer
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Favorite barbecue sauce
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Rub the chicken thoroughly in the spice rub. In a large Dutch oven, whisk the beer, cider vinegar, ketchup, liquid smoke, and
Worcestershire sauce until combined. Nestle the chicken into the Dutch oven, overlapping if necessary, and bring the mixture to a boil.
Cover the pot and move to the preheated oven. Cook the chicken until it is falling off the bone, 75 to 90 minutes. Remove chicken with tongs to a large sheet pan or bowl. Allow to cool a few minutes, then shred using two forks (or my favorite bear claws). Discard any bones and gristle. Place the shredded chicken back into the cooking liquid and cool completely. (This step can be made up to two days in advance; just cover and refrigerate until ready to move forward.)
Turn the oven on broil. Push the chicken through a fine mesh sieve to remove excess sauce (do not discard the cooking liquid). Arrange the chicken on two sheet pans and broil (working in batches) until the chicken is crisp and some of the ends are blackened, 6 to 10 minutes each.
Toss the pulled chicken with your favorite barbecue sauce, a few tablespoons at a time, to your taste. Add a few tablespoons of cooking liquid to moisten, if desired. (I always save some liquid to add to the meat when reheating.) Serve barbecue chicken with steamed potato buns and vinegar slaw.
Note: Don’t use chicken breasts for this recipe because the meat will become very dry under the heat of the broiler. The fat in the dark meat will help keep the chicken moist.
FOR THE VINEGAR SLAW:
2 cups coleslaw mix
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
For the vinegar slaw, combine the coleslaw mix with vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Taste, and adjust any seasonings if desired.
FOR THE SOUTHERN SPICE RUB:
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
For the southern spice rub, mix all ingredients until well-blended. Refrigerate excess for later use.