Recipe: Barbecued Pulled Chicken

Based on a recipe from June 2005 Cook's Illustrated and prepared for dinner on Sunday, July 22, 2012

Makes 6-8 servings in the original recipe, but based on our experience you will get more servings than this. This recipe is for a gas grill.


8 bone-in, skin-on chicken leg quarters
2 cups wood chips

1 large onion
¼ cup water
1½ cups ketchup
1½ cups apple cider
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup molasses
½teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
1½ tablespoons chili powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Chicken: Soak the wood chips in water for 30 minutes
  2. Using kitchen shears, remove the backbone if attached to the thigh and trim excess skin and large fat deposits.
  3. Drain the wood chips and place them in a disposable aluminum pan.
  4. Place the pan directly on the primary burner of the grill. Turn all burners on to high and close the lid until the wood chips smoke, about 15 minutes.
  5. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
  6. Turn off all but the primary burner.
  7. Place the chicken skin-side down on the cool side of the grill.
  8. Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 185°, 2 to 3 hours. Adjust the primary burner to maintain a grill temperature of about 325°.  Every 30-45 minutes rotate the chicken, moving the pieces closest from the primary burner to the cooler side of the grill.
  9. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest until cool enough to handle.
  10. Sauce: Roughly chop the onion and purée it with water in a food processor until it resembles slush.
  11. Press the onion purée through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Retain the liquid, discard the solids.
  12. In a bowl, whisk to combine: ketchup, ¾ cup of onion purée, apple cider, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, molasses, pepper, and 3 Tablespoons vinegar.
  13. Heat oil until shimmering in a sauce pan then add minced garlic, chili powder, and cayenne and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  14. Add ketchup mixture. increase heat, and bring to a boil.
  15. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes to meld the flavors. The sauce will thicken slightly.
  16. Pour 2 cups of the sauce into a bowl.
  17. Assemble: Remove and discard chicken skin.
  18. Use your fingers to pull the chicken from the bones. Discard the bones.
  19. Divide the chicken into two approximately equal piles with the small pieces in one pile, the large pieces in the other.
  20. Coarsely chop the pile of small pieces in a food processor, three to four 1-second pulses.
  21. Use two forks to shred the larger pieces of chicken.
  22. Add the chicken to the sauce in the saucepan, add 1 Tablespoon vinegar, and heat until warmed through.
  23. Serve on buns, passing the remaining sauce at the table.
Trim and season the chicken and cook over indirect heat with wood chips.
While the chicken cooks, prepare the sauce. First, purée the onion.
Strain the purée and discard the solids.
After blooming the spices in a sauce pan, add the onion purée and other ingredients, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes or so.
After the cooked chicken has cooled, remove and discard the skin the pull the meat from the bones.

Coarsely chop half of the chicken and, using two forks, shred the remaining larger pieces.

Mix the chicken with 2 cups of the sauce,  cook on low heat until heated through, and serve  on buns.

No comments:

Post a Comment