Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwiches and Broccoli Slaw – a Sweet Summertime Tradition.
Summer is officially here and it is time to fire up the barbecue grill!
Although there is debate over the exact origins of barbecue, early man learned to make a fire and roast some form of meat in order to survive. These days our fires can be wood, charcoal or gas, and we go way beyond just roasting meat. Vegetables, fruits and even desserts can be cooked on the grill. Throw in a handful of hickory, pecan, or cherry wood chips, and you can get an amazing smoky flavor. Beef, pork, poultry, fish, seafood, game birds and venison are all wonderful grilled, but take on a richer flavor when smoked.
Here in the South, barbecue typically refers to meat that is slow smoked over indirect heat, sometimes for 12 hours or more. This long, slow smoking process tenderizes the meat and ensures that it takes on the fragrant smoky flavor of the wood. Barbecue styles vary throughout the United States. Texas barbecue is typically beef, while South Carolina’s tradition is pork. And every region thinks theirs is the best. The debate from one area to another, will go on forever, to dry rub or not to dry rub, sauce or no sauce, and whether vinegar, mustard or tomato based sauces are the best. I like them all, and I think they each have a place, but they absolutely have to have a kick of heat to get my juices flowing.
OSA Gourmet Datil Pepper Products are perfect for grilling and smoking. They get their heat from Datil Peppers, St Augustine, Florida’s own little pepper, but are tame enough so that you can taste your food, savoring every bite. I think over the top hot sauces with Ghost Peppers, and Carolina Reapers are fun, and I know some people absolutely love them, but they are just too hot for my discerning palate. Datil Peppers have a sweet-heat that is unique in the pepper world. You just have to try them once to be hooked on their delicious heat and flavor.
Golden Ripe Datil Peppers
To me, barbecue is more than just a cooking method. It’s a social event. A gathering of friends and family who enjoy being outdoors, having fun, playing games, and eagerly anticipating sitting down together for a lovingly prepared meal. Even if it is just CR and myself, sitting outside in our own little paradise here is St Augustine, watching shorebirds land on the pond, looking at the swamp daisies and calla lilies growing beside the water, or just watching our crazy dog Shadow chase squirrels, we love to be outdoors. And we love to cook out. Most nights when the weather is nice, you will find us camped around the fire pit, listening to music or hooting at the owls. That’s my idea of camping these days.
My family used to go camping every summer when I was a kid. None of the air conditioned, luxury RV’s you see everywhere now. Nope, my sister and I slept in a tent and my parents had a pop-top tent trailer. Neither one was ideal, as it was always either too hot or too cold. Not much in between. We usually camped with friends, so there were at least five of us kids who discovered every inch of the campground while our parents set up the tents and trailers and tarps and grills, and chairs. Sliding Rock, North Carolina, Hard Labor Creek State Park in Georgia, Table Rock State Park in South Carolina, Goose Creek State Park on the Pamlico Sound in North Carolina, High Falls State Park in GA. Those are the ones I have the fondest memories of.
But it always rained. I mean ALWAYS, and a LOT! Tent camping in the rain can be utterly miserable. Cooking outdoors in the rain was not much fun for the adults. But it was what it was, and we couldn’t change it. “Roughing it” was “fun,” my daddy used to say. And even though we weren’t always dry, we did manage to find ways to have fun. We always had plenty to eat, and anything cooked outdoors on a grill always seemed to taste better. Lots of burgers and hot dogs, steaks and ribs. Baked potatoes wrapped in foil were cooked in the coals. Baked beans, and chili. I never liked hot dogs, and neither did Daddy, but when that’s what’s served, and you’re hungry enough, you eat whatever is placed in front of you. I liked roasting the weenies, just not eating them. I liked cooking even back then. Especially outdoors.
Sliding Rock, North Carolina
We did have some lovely, sunny days, swimming in the cold waterfalls and creeks. Slip sliding down the large flat, cold, wet rocks at Sliding Rock State Park was something we looked forward to, and hated to leave. That was definitely one of my favorite places to camp. We hiked and gathered wild blueberries and blackberries, caught salamanders and newts, played on the playgrounds and just enjoyed being kids. We didn’t have cell phones or video games, just board games like Monopoly and Clue, and a deck of cards for the rainy stretches. We had our childhood imaginations for the rest. We played tag and capture the flag with other kids at the campgrounds. We made up skits and songs to entertain our parents at night, and we loved to toast marshmallows and make s’mores while sitting around a camp fire at night telling scary ghost stories.
Unfortunately for my current grilling lust, it has rained every single day for the last month here in North Florida. Not our usual 30 minute afternoon showers, either. We’ve had a lot of heavy rain with high winds. Thunder that shakes the windows and lightning that will blind you. A house not a quarter of a mile from us was struck by lightning the other night and destroyed a brand new home in the middle of the afternoon. Finding a break in the weather to fire up the grill or smoker has been difficult. Every time I got ready to light the grill, the rain would start up again, and not let up for hours.
But I really wanted that pulled chicken, so I finally opted to cook it in a large Dutch Oven on top of the stove. I lightly browned beautiful, fresh, organic, free-range chicken breasts on both sides and then removed it to a platter while I made the sauce in the same pot. Onions, garlic, beer, 1st Place World Hot Sauce Award Winning Old St Augustine Sweet Heat Bar-B-Que Sauce and Runner-Up World Hot Sauce Award WInning Old St Augustine Fountain of Youth Datil Marinade, were cooked together to create the sauce.
The chicken was added back to the pot, covered and simmered on low for an hour. OMG. The smells emanating from the kitchen were heavenly. It was hard to wait for an hour to shred the chicken.
Pulled Barbecue Chicken ready to be eaten.
While the chicken cooked, I threw together a quick slaw using prepackaged broccoli slaw mix with mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and Old St Augustine Datil Jerk Jamaican Seasoning.
The cooked chicken was removed from the pot and gently pulled apart with two forks and then added back to the sauce in the pot. Once it was completely coated with the barbecue sauce, it was time to plate up those sandwiches.
The results were amazing. Soft onion rolls, piled high with tender, moist barbecue chicken, slow cooked in delicious datil pepper infused barbecue sauce were the perfect base for my crisp, crunchy and tangy broccoli slaw. Spicy pickled okra from my garden last year, was the right choice to serve alongside the sandwich.
I had some of the pulled chicken left over, which went wonderfully well as the topping for barbecue pulled chicken nachos the following day. A bed of corn tortilla chips, diced red onions, diced bell pepper, the pulled chicken and a generous topping of sharp cheddar cheese went under the broiler for a few minutes. Served with my Old St Augustine Snake Bite Salsa and fresh guacamole, they were to die for. I definitely got my barbecue pulled chicken fix.
Pulled Chicken Barbecue Sandwiches with Broccoli Slaw