Monday, August 6, 2012

Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

I’ve been cooking a lot of fancy things lately, trying to get more fodder for my third book, which will be all about international dishes and things that are more complex and tricky.  That’s been fun and challenging, but it has left me kind of creatively drained.

A little while ago, I decided to revisit a traditional Dutch oven basic: barbecued chicken.  In its simplest form, all you have to do is put some chicken parts in a dutch oven and pour in some barbecue sauce on top of them.  Then ya roast it up, and serve it!  No fuss, and a delicious meal.  If you have some hamburger buns, you can pull the chicken apart and stir it all back into the sauce, then have it as sandwiches.

If you wanted, you could do all that from scratch.  Well, I wanted, and this is how I did it:

Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

The Buns

12” Shallow Dutch oven
12-14 coals below
24-26 coals above

½ Cup of 110° water
2 tablespoon active dry yeast
¾ Cup of 110° milk
¼ cup sugar
3 Tbsp butter
2 tsp salt
4-5 cups fresh bread flour (if the flour is old, add 1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten)
1 egg

1 egg
Sesame seeds
poppy seeds

Mark’s Meat Rub

1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp crushed coriander
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
1 Tbsp thyme
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp oregano

The Chicken

12” Shallow Dutch oven
10-12 coals below
12-14 coals above

1-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken
2 medium onions, quartered
3-4 medium potatoes in ¾” cubes

The Sauce

1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
Brown sugar
Some kind of hot spice (Cayenne Pepper or Chili powder)

I’m going to describe the steps for the buns and the chicken and sauce separately.

I started out by activating the yeast in the water.  I set that aside to get all foamy, while I gathered the rest of the ingredients.  I always use bread yeast when making yeast breads, but if it gets more than a couple of months old, I always add a little bit of vital wheat gluten powder.  Otherwise, it will never get decent gluten development, and won’t rise well.

I added all of the dry ingredients together (using just 4 cups of flour), then poured in the wet, and mixed it all to a dough ball.  I turned that out onto my floured tabletop and began kneading.  I kept adding more flour as I needed (kneaded?) to make it the right texture and not so sticky.  Finally, after about 10 minutes or so, it passed the windowpane test (  I oiled a bowl and set it aside to raise.

After raising, I lit up some coals.  I punched punched down the dough and cut it into 8 equal parts.  These I shaped into dough balls.  I flattened them under my palm on the table top.  All of these went into the oiled Dutch oven.  I took the Dutch oven lid out and poured a lot of burning coals on top of it, to preheat.

After about 20-25 minutes, the dough balls were rising again, and the lid was hot.  I whipped up an egg and coated the top of each bun using a basting brush, then sprinkled on the other toppings.  Then I put on the lid and adjusted the coals above and below.  I baked them for about 30-35 minutes, or until the internal temperature hit about 180-200.

When they were done, I pulled them out and put them on a cooling rack.

Then, on to the Chicken!

First, I made sure that the chicken was thawed, rinsed off, and patted dry.  Then, I coated all of the pieces with the meat rub.  I actually had quite a bit left over in a spice jar, from another time I used it.  It’s one of my own spice blends, and I actually use it quite a bit.

I cubed up the potatoes and quartered the onions and laid them in the bottom of another 12” Dutch oven.  I laid the chicken parts above those, and set it on the coals to roast.

I decided to add the sauce after the fact, and let the spice rub flavor the chicken first.  I mixed the sauce while the meat was cooking.  I did it pretty much in the order listed above.  I didn’t put in amounts, because when I make BBQ sauce, I make it more by taste.  I started with the two cans of tomato paste and sauce, and from there just added each ingredient, tasting along the way.  I wanted to get a good balance of all of the ingredients.

When the chicken was cooked to 170 degrees, internally, I pulled it off the coals.  I put the chicken in a bowl and let them cool a bit, but not too much.  Just to the point of being cool enough to handle without intense burning pain.  Using a couple of forks, I shredded the chicken.

I also pulled the potatoes and onions out of the dutch oven, and separated out the onions as much as I could.  I chopped the onions using the mincing knife technique, but still leaving pretty big chunks, and added those back into the chicken.  Then, I poured in the sauce and stirred it all together.  I didn’t use up all of the sauce, just enough to give the chicken a good coating.

The potatoes, you could serve up as you please.  They would be tasty as they were, but I actually made a potato salad out of them.

The whole meal was delicious and very “homey”!

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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