When eating out, I almost never order chicken. At home, it’s the opposite. I grill chicken a lot. While partly because I’m always going to pick beef over chicken off a restaurant menu, (I mean who doesn’t?!) the true reason is the sheer amount of variety I can get with a chicken off the grill at home. I’m grilling a chicken at least once a week and even though it goes on the grill the same way, what happens afterward is what makes it so interesting and so incredibly tasty.
Chicken to the rescue
I’m a sucker for BBQ. Of course, as we know, BBQ requires planning and a day of smoking. What do you do if it’s more last minute, but the pangs of BBQ need answering? Make pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches. It requires less planning, less grilling, but still hits all of the right BBQ notes.
Less recipe, more process
These sandwiches are more about the “how” to the process than the “what.” It’s simple and open to your whims and fancy. Armed with some basic grilling steps, anyone can make them.
No matter what the final chicken product is, the first requirement is the easiest, the chicken. I usually start with a 4-5 pound whole chicken.
Since these are BBQ sandwiches, I suggest using a more aggressive rub on the chicken and by aggressive I mean either a mixture of spicy highs and sweet lows or your favorite store bought rub. This is more than salt and pepper. Be sure to work the rub both on the skin, under the skin, and inside the chicken’s cavity. Unless the skin is going to be in your sandwich, a lot of the rub will not hit the meat.
With the chicken rubbed and trussed, it goes on the kettle with indirect medium heat (350-375 F) for about an hour and fifteen minutes. Looking to double down on BBQ, think about adding a handful of wood chips, like cherry or apple, at the beginning of the cook.
While it’s important to keep an eye on the timer, it’s even more important to keep an eye on the internal temperature. Chicken “pulls” better when it is cooked just right, and that means a finished temperature of 165 F. The goal is moist and succulent meat, not dried out and tough.
With the chicken “rested” and at temperature, it’s time to pull. Carve the chicken down to the bones and then on a large cutting board, shred apart the light and dark meat, mixing them both together.
In a large bowl, add the chicken, as well as a cup of your favorite BBQ sauce. Toast some buns on the grill, which will still be hot, and then load the chicken on the buns, and if desired, top with cheese. In this case, I went with gouda.
The process is straightforward, and the possibilities you can bring to it are endless. This is exactly why I like to grill chicken at home. It’s easy and as predicted, really, really good.