I love a feast. A proper, gather round the table heaped with dishes, everyone talking at once, help yourself, kind of feast. My favourite one recently was our huge Middle Eastern feast for New Year’s Eve. when the table was heaving with all sorts of different things ready to tuck into. We talked, we laughed, we drank lovely wine, we stuffed all sorts of different things into pittas, and then into our faces. A real joyful night.
This sort of eating is so easy, because once you’ve chucked the main event into the oven, it’s just a case of assembling a few sides. I’ve been tinkering with this barbecue pulled chicken for a while, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say it could possibly CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Okay, so it takes an hour, but it’s so worth it for the end result. There’s hardly any actual work, and once you’ve cooked it, the possibilities are endless: stuff it into crusty rolls or pittas with salad, pile it onto rice or noodles, use it as a pizza topping, serve it with potato wedges and buttery corn on the cob, put it in a burger, top a baked potato, or do what we did and roll it into soft tortillas with fresh coleslaw, avocado and salad. It’s just heavenly. Double the recipe and serve it for a crowd (or freeze for another day), I guarantee you’ll make it again and again.
UPDATE: Before, I said not to be afraid to muck about with this recipe, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’ve been finding it a bit sweet, so I’ve taken out the brown sugar from the original recipe (2 tbsp if you want to add it back in) and I’ve also taken to using tomato ketchup instead of purée (because mine always seems to go mouldy before I use it up). If you like it a bit more fiery, amp up the chilli. Less smoky? Leave out the paprika. Also, if you’d like it a bit more saucy, maybe add some stock, or even half a tin of chopped tomatoes. You’ll soon find the perfect version for you.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 red onion, finely chopped
4 chicken breasts
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
About 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated (I keep mine in the freezer)
4 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato purée or ketchup
Pinch dried chilli
You’ll need a heavy casserole with a well-fitting lid, or something similar.
Preheat the oven to 170C/gas 3
Add a couple of tablespoons of oil to to the pan, then pop in the onions. Fry them gently until they start to soften, then add in the chicken breasts (I cut each one roughly in half), season well, sprinkle over the paprika, stir, then leave them to cook just while you get all the barbecue sauce ingredients together.
Mix up everything else in a jug, give it a good stir to make sure it’s all combined (otherwise you’ll leave the honey in the bottom of the jug), then pour it over the chicken. Pop on the lid then put it in the oven and forget it for an hour (because I’m a fiddler though, I give it a stir a couple of times).
After an hour, the chicken will be melty and soft, so just pull it apart into shreds with a couple of forks, mixing with the rest of the sauce as you go.
And that’s it. You’ve got the starting point to a gazillion different yummy dinners, lunches and snacks. What will you do with yours?