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THE KITCHN: 'Pulled' chicken makes great alternative to BBQ pork

By Faith Durand, on

Shredded meat -- beef, pork or chicken -- is one of the most versatile dinner elements you can imagine. Cook up a few pounds of shredded pork and freeze it, then dole it out for weeknight meals. Or make some shredded beef and serve a crowd. Today, let's talk chicken: simple, inexpensive and relatively quick, chicken has some advantages over the heavier beef and pork. Here's how to make a batch of tender and delicious pulled chicken in the oven -- or your slow cooker!

Pulled chicken is just as easy as its beef and pork counterparts, but it takes less time and is lighter in fat and calories (if you pay attention to that sort of thing!).

I feel, though, that there is one key element to making good barbecue sauce chicken, whether it's in the oven or the slow cooker: Use dark meat. Chicken breasts don't have enough fat or tenderness to get soft while braising; they just aren't going to fall apart into soft threads the way a slightly fattier meat will. I like to use mostly boneless skinless chicken thighs, which aren't as dark as legs, but offer a light yet succulent texture. I do mix in a breast or too as well, but I would never use them for more than 25 percent to 30 percent of the total meat.

You can also opt to use bone-in chicken, but for me the whole point of this dish is for it to be extremely easy and hands-off, and the extra work of skinning the chicken or working with the bones isn't worth it.

After that, it's all easy! Here's a very basic, simple recipe or set of instructions for making barbecue sauce pulled chicken.

Barbecue Shredded Chicken


Serves 8 to 10.

3 to 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, or a mix of thighs and breasts

Olive oil

1 large onion, diced


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