Wednesday 21 January 2015

Slow Cooker Beer & Brown Sugar Pulled Chicken

My mother wrote to me the other day to say as a result of my brother's most recent visit she had been left with a supply of beer in her fridge. Not a beer drinker herself, she tried to find some other culinary use for it and ended up making beer bread in her new bread machine.  " tastes like beer" she complained. I suggested that next time she use it for stew or even for chicken. I'd never actually used it for chicken before, but I had heard stories.

Within a day, I had been sent a link by a friend for a slow cooker chicken recipe that called for 12 ounces of beer, a divine sign that it was time for me to try cooking chicken with beer if ever there was one. I find signs in odd places. I don't use our slow cooker a huge amount, as I do find it tends to make its contents more watery than I'd like, but as we had great success last week with some pulled pork in our slow cooker I thought I'd give it a shot. The recipe was simple enough: but all ingredients in together in slow cooker and cook on low for four hours. Sounded good to me. So in I put some tomato puree:

I did manage to take it out of the measuring cup, by the way.

Then some soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and worcester sauce. They all looked like the same thing going in, but they are very different, trust me.

Then I put in some paprika. I was too lazy to get out another measuring spoon so I put about a third of a Tablespoon in (in other words, a teaspoon - unless you are in Australia, where those crazies put 4 teaspoons in a Tablespoon).

The recipe called for chilli powder, so I got this bad baby out from our spice tin. Our spice tin is deceptive - on the outside it looks like a huge tin of chocolate biscuits but inside are gems like this. The spices are great, but if I was actually looking for a chocolate biscuit I'd be most heartbreakingly disappointed.

The recipe called for garlic powder, but we don't really do that in these parts, so in went some fresh garlic.

And for sweetness, some brown sugar. Any hard, dried lumps thankfully won't cause any problems here.

A quick stir, and then I had to stop for a while. Why? Because I didn't have any beer. I had done my daily shop at 9am just after the school drop-off, and here in Scotland you can't buy booze until 10am. So ironically they force me to shop later in the day for my tipple, making me more likely to say to myself "gosh, I do fancy a drink now!" and buy more booze. Silly lawmakers.

A few hours later I made my purchase of this from my local off license. In this case I chose it because the bottle was small (I only needed 12 oz) and it seemed to suggest it would be stronger in flavour than the other beers they stocked. I don't think I've ever actually tasted this beer. The recipe suggested that the more booze in the beer, the more tenderizing power it has, but I'm not sure I buy that.

In went most of it. I briefly contemplated trying the rest of it, but didn't think it would be smart to head out on the school run with beer on my breath. Not that they have breathalysers for people riding the bus, but it's not exactly smiled upon.

Last of all, in went the chicken. On went the lid, and the dial was set to "low".

Four ridiculously frustrating hours of childcare later, I opened the lid to this:

And because I am no photographer, that looks disgusting. It smelled nice, I can assure you, and it didn't look as gross in person. I removed the chicken and put it in a separate bowl.

Again, I AM NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER. Using two forks I shredded the chicken like so:

I also added back in some of the juices from the pot until it looked manageably soggy but not too drippy.

Then all we did was slice open some rolls and put in some of this tastiness. We served salad on the side so we didn't feel like complete carnivores, and all five family members ate it. Score. My husband even had some barbeque sauce atop his, and raved through the whole meal.

An easy workday dinner and a great use of the slow cooker. 

If you want to see what this looks like with pretty pictures and to get the original recipe, just go here

Or, if you want to make them without going to another website, just do as follows: 

Slow Cooker Beer and Brown Sugar
Pulled Chicken Sliders
¼ cup tomato puree
3 Tbs soy sauce
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp paprika
2 cloves garlic (or a tsp of powder if you have it - the garlic doesn't totally soften in the cooker)
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
12 ounces beer 
6 boneless skinless chicken thigh fillets

In your slow cooker bowl, mix together the tomato paste, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, chipotle powder, paprika, garlic and brown sugar.
Add the chicken and beer. Cook on low for 4 hours or until chicken pulls
apart easy with a fork.
Using two forks, shred chicken and add as much or as little of the juices from the pot as you wish.
Serve on rolls with salad.


I now have it on good authority that the leftover juices in the pot when reduced make a wonderful sauce - I will certainly try this next time I make it.

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