Thursday, February 14, 2013

Slow cooker BBQ pulled chicken

It's Valentine's Day!  How are you going to show your love to those most important in your life?  I'm going to start by renaming our slow cooker.  Yep, the inanimate non-living slow cooker. "Crock Pot" just seems so impersonal, you know?  I think I'll call him Louie, mostly so I can say this over and over and over again:

"Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Louie and I, you see, have nurtured a wonderful and functional relationship over the past few two weeks.  For so long, we were like ships passing in the night.  I'd see him, up high on a shelf, but rarely brought him down to chat, to play, to work.  I'd grab the cookie sheets next to him and shut the closet, returning him to a world of neglect and darkness.

But, since sizzling slow cooker February has begun, our friendship has really grown.  We begin our mornings together -- I give him some attention while I make my breakfast.  I plug him in before we bid farewell, and I head off to work as he settles in for a cozy day of cooking whatever delicious ingredients I've given him.

And, when I come home, Louie welcomes me with the most amazing smelling apartment, night after night.  Kielbasa stewLasagnaBlack bean soup!  Different dishes but drool-worthy tastes every single time.  Frankly, I don't know how he does it.

This time was no different.  He turned humble and regularly bland chicken into a mouth-watering dinner both worthy of company or a casual outdoor picnic (right now I'm looking at you, west coasters).  The sauce was made up of basic pantry staples that morphed into something you'd find at the best barbeque joint in Memphis.  Smoky, sweet, tangy, and a little bit spicy.  I barely had to shred the chicken because it practically fell apart with a stern glance from yours truly.  Minimum effort, maximum flavor.  My kind of weeknight meal

Oh, and when dinner is cooked and his work is finished?  It's bath time.  It's the least I can do to express my love and gratitude.  Turns out Louie's favorite bubble bath is lemon-scented Ajax.  Go figure ;)  Happy Valentine's Day, sweethearts!

Two years ago: Mexican chocolate shortbread
Three years ago: Valentine's blondies

Barbeque Pulled Chicken in the Slow Cooker
(adapted slightly from Eating Well's recipe)
-serves 6

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon smoked or sweet paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon (or more) hot sauce, optional
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small white onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients through salt in a slow cooker and stir until smooth.  Add chicken, onion, and garlic and toss to coat evenly.  Put lid on and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.  Remove chicken to a cutting board and shred with a fork.  Return chicken to the sauce and stir well.  Serve immediately, either alone or with a buttered and toasted bun.  Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

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