A simple weeknight meal, pulled chicken takes a fair amount of time to cook (at least three hours), but can be left alone for most of the cooking time and only requires a few ingredients. It’s also extremely versatile, suited to being paired with a great number of sides.
Pulled chicken cooking tips
Only a few basic ingredients are required for this pulled chicken recipe: chicken, salt, maple syrup, chilli, thyme, garlic and dark beer (I like Krombacher Dark beer, but any porter or stout such as Guinness will do). Additional ingredients can also be added, subject to personal taste. He chilli, thyme and garlic can also be omitted.
Chicken thighs will work best for this recipe, ideally with the bone still intact. Chicken breast will also work, but it’s far less fatty and will thus become dry far easier. Chicken breast is best suited to fast cooking rather than being slow-cooked.
Pulled chicken should be cooked for at least three hours, but can also be left longer or even placed in a slow cooker. If cooking for longer than three hours, however, keep an eye on the liquid to make sure it doesn’t evaporate or thicken up and burn the pan.
Once cooked, the chicken can be shredded with two forks or tongs then either eaten straight away or reheated later. The pulled chicken can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days in a sealed container, or frozen in freezer-safe containers. Thaw before gently reheating to avoid drying out the chicken.
Pulled chicken is an extremely versatile dish, delicious on its own, in a sandwich, for filling lettuce cups, with sweet potato mash, rice or potatoes. Leftovers also work well in various curries, pies and stir fry dishes.
If you’d rather not use beer, you can use water or make your own barbecue sauce to use in place of the liquid.
- 8 chicken thighs ideally bone-in
- 500 ml dark beer I like Krombacher Dark
- 250 ml maple syrup
- ½ tbsp flaky sea salt
- 1.5 tsp chilli flakes or add more or less to taste
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves or 1.5 tsp dried thyme
- 8 cloves garlic peeled
- Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas 3.
- Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and reserve for another recipe.
- Place the beer, maple syrup, sea salt, chilli and thyme into a large, oven proof roasting tray or pan and whisk to combine. Add the skinned chicken thighs and garlic cloves.
- Cover with foil or a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 3 hours. Check on the chicken after 2 hours and add more liquid to the pan if need be, or remove the lid if there’s still plenty of liquid. Return to the oven for another hour (or more) until the chicken is tender enough to shred. Make sure the liquid doesn’t completely evaporate, however, as the chicken may burn.
- Remove from the oven, then transfer the chicken thighs onto a plate or chopping board. Remove the bone and shred using a fork or tongs. Return to the pan with the braising liquid and stir to coat. Taste and add more salt or chilli before serving, if necessary.
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