Pulled Chicken Barbecue on Beer Bread with Quick Dill Pickles

This is a great summer meal. We have already tried a couple versions!

The first time I served this meal, I shredded grilled chicken thighs and dressed them with Trader Joe’s mustard barbecue sauce. We topped them with the quick dill pickles (below) and ate them as classic sandwiches.

The second time, I served the sandwiches in an open face fashion and we ate them with a knife and fork. I shredded a rotisserie chicken and dressed the meat with the tomato-based barbecue sauce (below) and topped them with my favorite Easy Fridge Dill Pickles.

This recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I used various barbecue sauces and pickles. I also served the sandwiches on slices of a Honey Beer Bread loaf. We ate the sandwiches with potato chips on one occasion and with homemade Curly Fries on the second occasion. Corn on the cob would also be great. The original recipe suggests serving them with cole slaw- next time!

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

To Assemble the Sandwiches:

  • Honey Beer Bread or large potato rolls or hamburger buns
  • Basic Barbecue Sauce (recipe below) or 2 cups store-bought sauce (such as Trader Joe’s Mustard Barbecue Sauce)
  • Quick Dill Pickles (recipe below) or Easy Fridge Dill Pickles
  • shredded skinless cooked chicken from a large store-bought rotisserie chicken (4 cups packed, or more, to taste) or boneless skinless chicken thighs, grilled and shredded
  1. Prepare the Beer Bread, Basic Barbeque Sauce and Dill Pickle Cucumber Slices. (Alternatively, bring the prepared barbecue sauce to a boil in a medium saucepan and warm the store-bought buns.)
  2. Add the shredded chicken meat to the sauce and heat until hot. (When using the Basic Barbecue Sauce, I incorporated the shredded meat from an entire rotisserie chicken. We had leftovers.)
  3. Cut the Beer Bread, if using, one or two slices per serving, as desired.
  4. Place pieces of bread on individual plates and top each with the chicken mixture.
  5. Top the chicken with pickle slices and another piece of bread, if desired.

For the Basic Barbecue Sauce:

Yield: 2 cups

  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves (I used 2 CSA little neck garlic cloves)
  • 2 cups ketchup (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 4 T cider vinegar
  • 4 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 T Creole seasoning (recipe below) or store-bought (I used Slap Ya Mama)
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1.  Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot; reduce the heat to low and press the garlic into the oil. Sauté for about 1 minute or until it just begins to turn golden.
  2. Add the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, Creole seasoning, and mustard.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat; reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce, partially covered to reduce spattering, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use as directed in a recipe or transfer to a nonreactive jar or bowl, cover, and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

For the Quick Dill Pickles:

Yield: 1 1/3 cups

  • one 5 to 6-inch piece of seedless (English) cucumber
  • 2 T fresh dill leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Thinly slice enough of the cucumber to make 1 1/3 cups. (I cut them 1/8-inch thick using a mandolin.)
  2. Combine the cucumber with the vinegar, dill, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small non-reactive bowl.
  3. Set it aside at room temperature and use within and hour, or cover and refrigerate for later use.

For the Creole Seasoning:

Yield: about 1/2 cup

  • 1 T plus 1 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 T Kosher salt
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  1. Combine the paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme in a small bowl.
  2.  Transfer to a tight jar and use as directed in a recipe.

Simple Barbecue Sauce

I hate to admit it, but I initially dismissed this recipe when I read it in the New York Times- it seemed too simple to be good. I thought this despite the fact that I have FOUR different types of paprika in my spice cabinet and smoked paprika is not only my favorite, but is the secret ingredient in this sauce! When it was posted as a “most popular recipe, ” I had to try it. 🙂

We ate it over chicken thighs with potatoes, corn, and summer squash casserole on the side. What a meal! The original recipe suggests that the sauce should be thinned out if painting the meat while cooking and serving the full-strength sauce along with the cooked meat. This recipe is from the New York Times, contributed by John Willoughby. A simple and perfect summer recipe.

  • ⅔ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Root Beer Pulled-Pork Sandwiches

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I initially scoffed (to myself, of course!) when I heard about making pulled pork with this method. BUT… in order to try the “Carolina Gold Barbeque Sauce” that I saw at Trader Joe’s, I needed a sauceless method to cook pulled pork. Root beer was perfect. 🙂 This might be the most simple dish I have ever made– or at least the simplest I would blog about! The pork was perfectly cooked and seasoned and the sauce was similar to Piggy Park in Columbia, South Carolina- my goal.  I have been on a quest for a long time to make a homemade version of this sauce with little success. My husband LOVES it! My last attempt was South Carolina Mustard Pulled Pork. One of my friends was SHOCKED that I was using bottled sauce- but it was tasty! 🙂 We ate our sandwiches with coleslaw and baked beans.

  • 2-3 pound boneless pork shoulder, pork butt, or boneless pork rib meat
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
  • 16 to 20 oz good quality root beer
  • 8 to 10 oz Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce, or barbecue sauce of choice
  1. Generously season the meat with salt and pepper. Place in slow cooker. Add root beer.
  2. Cover, and cook until the meat is very tender and falling apart, about 8 hours on low (or on high for about 6 hours).
  3. Remove meat from cooking liquid and shred meat using two forks.
  4. Place in a bowl and mix with barbecue sauce of choice. Keep warm.
  5. Serve on brioche or other sandwich rolls.

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Apple Cider Barbecue Sauce

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Last summer I made North Carolina-Style pulled pork sandwiches with this apple cider barbecue sauce. I made TONS of sauce and we used the leftovers on grilled chicken thighs for the Fourth of July. They were so great that I made the barbecue sauce just for the Fourth of July chicken thighs this year! 🙂

This recipe is adapted from Martha’s American Food: A Celebration of Our Nation’s Most Treasured Dishes, from Coast to Coast by Martha Stewart. The chicken marinates in the sauce overnight. This recipe makes enough sauce to use on at least two occasions, and it keeps for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Makes 5 cups

  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 cups unsweetened apple cider
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  1. In a small stockpot, bring all the ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, about 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids.
  3. Sauce can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks; let cool completely before transferring to airtight containers, and reheat over low before serving.

South Carolina Mustard Pulled Pork

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For a long time, I have been on a quest to duplicate the mustard-based pulled pork from the Piggy Park in Columbia, South Carolina. My husband has the FONDEST food memory of their pulled pork sandwich from his college days! This recipe, adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Sean Brock, was my most recent attempt.

I had really high hopes based on the title of the barbecue sauce– SOUTH Carolina sauce- which is mustard-based, not ketchup-based like North Carolina sauce (and most other barbecue sauces), and it is listed as a “staff-favorite” recipe. It was super-tasty with nice mustard flavor, but, different than the Piggy Park….

I slow-cooked the pork in a convection oven but I think that it would have had more pan juices for the sauce if I had used the slow-cooker- I had to add additional stock to my pan juices and drippings. The original recipe also required the pork to be smoked on a grill for 1 hour after it is slow-cooked in the oven. Even though this undoubtedly adds another layer of flavor, I skipped this step because we are not huge fans of smoky flavor. We ate it on brioche rolls with potato chips and coleslaw on the side. A perfect (almost perfect) Father’s Day celebratory meal. 🙂 Happy Father’s Day!

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • One 5- to 6-pound boneless pork shoulder
  • chicken stock, as needed
  • South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce, recipe follows
  1. Preheat the oven to 275°. In a medium bowl, whisk the mustard with the brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika and onion powder. Set the pork shoulder, fat side up, in a roasting pan. (Alternatively, a slow-cooker could be used set on low.) Brush the pork with the mustard mixture. Roast, uncovered, for 6 to 7 hours (on convection), or 8 hours, covered, in a slow-cooker, until the meat is very tender.
  2. Tilt the pan and pour the roasting juices into a medium bowl; you should have about 3/4 cup. (I used stock to compensate for less pan juices.) Refrigerate the juices for 30 minutes. Skim off the fat before using.
  3. Transfer the pork to a work surface and let rest for 30 minutes. Discard the gristle and fat. Using tongs and a fork, or your fingers, finely shred the meat and transfer it to a large bowl. Toss the shredded meat with 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the reserved roasting juices and barbecue sauce to taste.

MAKE AHEAD The smoked pork shoulder can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Break the pork into 4-inch pieces and bring to room temperature. Arrange the pork in a roasting pan, drizzle with 1/2 cup of water, cover with foil and rewarm in a 425° oven before shredding.

South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce

  • 1/2 cup reserved roasting juices (with additional chicken stock, as needed, for consistency)
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar (I substituted red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • sriracha, or other hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustardIMG_3851
  1. In a medium bowl, (or in the roasting pan) combine roasting juices with wine vinegar and cider vinegar. Add dark brown sugar and sweet smoked paprika, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Stir in yellow mustard. Simmer over moderate heat for 30 minutes, until thickened slightly. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce.

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