Believe me, this healthier version of the classic pulled pork sandwich will have you fooled, because nothing about it tastes healthy. Its rich, bold flavor is everything you want from a meaty meal, but using boneless skinless chicken thighs keeps it leaner than pulled pork. Don’t be intimidated by the time the chicken takes to prepare, because after you get it simmering away, it does all the work by itself. Then all you have to do is plop this juicy mixture on your favorite bun with a heaping pile of the slaw and sink your teeth right in. Dad will surely approve!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 3/4 to 2 hours
Total time: 2 hours and 20 minutes
Yield: 8 large sandwiches
For the pulled chicken
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 zucchini or yellow squash, grated
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1/3 cup The Heat Is On peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon (packed) brown sugar
1 (12 ounce) bottle amber ale or other healthy microbrew
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
For the slaw
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Small handful cilantro, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
8 buns, for serving the sandwiches
1. Heat a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle the chicken generously with the salt and pepper, then add 1 tablespoon oil and half the chicken to the pot. Brown the chicken about 3 minutes on each side so that it develops a golden crust, then remove to a plate and repeat this process with the remaining chicken. Set chicken aside.
2. Add the onions, carrots, and zucchini to the same pot, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté over medium heat for 5-8 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the can of tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, then add The Heat is On peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, beer, and water.
3. Bring to a simmer, add chicken back to the pot, put on the lid, and turn the heat to low. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1.5 hours.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the slaw by whisking the lime juice, honey, and vinegar in the bottom of a medium bowl. Add the cabbage, bell pepper, scallions, and cilantro and toss with your fingers or tongs.
5. When the chicken is soft enough that it begins to shred when you poke at it with a fork (about 1 1/2-2 hours later), turn the heat off, remove chicken chunks to a plate to cool a bit, then shred the chicken meat with your fingers or two forks and stir it back into the sauce.
6. Place a heaping ladleful of the chicken mixture on each bun followed by a little heap of the slaw. Top with remaining bun and serve.