Saturday, November 5, 2011

BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Slaw

I'm doing a cheap and lazy version of this today.

Normally, I'd make most of this from scratch. Make my own buns and coleslaw and BBQ sauce. Maybe even make some fresh fries. 

But it's rainy and depressing outside and I don't have the gumption to do it today, so slow braised chicken and store bought coleslaw mix and buns and sauce is going to have to be enough. 

BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Slaw

(adapted from Alton Brown's ribs recipe here)

2 large chicken breasts, on the bone if possible

Dry Rub:
4 tablespoons brown sugar, tightly packed (light or dark)
4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika if you have it)
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme (leaves will work too)
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Braising Liquid:
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 drops of liquid smoke (optional, but I like it)

1 bag of coleslaw mix, from the store
Hamburger buns from the store


Begin by getting the skin on your breasts taken care of. 

I skinned them, but I think if I do this again I'll put the rub under the skin and leave it on. I think the extra fat and juices will actually work well with this cooking method. Of course, this is up to you.

Get your spice rub mixed up. 

Stir to combine.

This will probably do 4-6 breasts, so I saved the extra.

Since I was following Alton Brown's procedure for making ribs, I ended up using the "foil" method to cook these breasts. You can probably just braise the breasts in a dutch oven and have perfectly fine results. I wanted to experiment with a new technique, so that's why I did it this way. 

It's definitely fussy and I can't really say that it was any better than a standard braise, so in the future, I think I'll just add everything to a single pot and cook it that way.

I'll still walk through how I did these breasts in the interest of science.


Place the skinned breast on a sheet of aluminium foil.

Sprinkle the rub on the breast and pat it on. Be generous.

Unstable rub pic.
Flip and repeat on the bottom.

Unstable rub pic 2 (sorry)

Flip the breast back over and fold up the foil around the breast like a pouch.

Crimp down the top and fold in the ends.

Leave one side loose because we're going to have to open it up in a bit.

Repeat with the other breast and stash in the fridge for at least an hour. Overnight would be best. I did an hour. 


When your hour is up, mix up the braising liquid.

This can vary with what you have on hand. I think that the wine was a really great addition as it added a lot of depth to the final product but you can use apple cider, or chicken broth or something else if you don't have wine or don't want to use it. 

Combine the braising ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.

Nuke it for 45 seconds.

Open one end of the packages and make sure the rest of the seals are tight.

Pour half the liquid into the each package.

Tilt the package back to distribute evenly.

Seal them back up and place in a 225F oven for 2.5 hours.


When your time is up, remove them from the oven. 

One of mine had a leak. 

Snip the end of the packages and drain the liquid into a sauce pan.

Place the chicken on a cutting board to cool.

Bring the recovered braising liquid to a boil and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.

 I let it go as long as it took me to shred the chicken. 

Alton says the liquid will thicken up like a true BBQ sauce. Mine never did. I was fine with it though. If I would have reduced it to a thick sauce I think I would have only had 1/4 cup left. 

Once you're done shredding your chicken and the sauce has been simmering for a bit, go ahead and toss in your chicken.

Give it a stir to reheat the chicken and combine everything nicely.

I served the sandwichess with the chicken piled on the bun with a healthy squirt of BBQ sauce (use your favorite recipe or store bought, whatever). If you want it "southern style", layer on some coleslaw and top with your bun.

I've made versions of this many times in the past using many cooking styles. I think that this chicken ended up being the most complex tasting that I've made. 

There was a definite depth of flavor from the rub and the braise that I've never had in my chicken before and I was very pleasantly surprised. The meat was succulent and tender and the sandwich reminded me of solid southern food I've had in the past. 

Overall, this was a great meal for cheap that delivered in the flavor department. 


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