I’m silly excited about this recipe. It’s the type of recipe that made me want to drop everything and tell you about it, unedited pictures and all (I didn’t. I edited. For you). It’s the type of recipe that is so simple yet so eye-opening it makes me look at my slow cooker in a whole new light.
That may sound hyperbolic, but this chicken will do that to you.
You all know about my love affair with my family’s pulled pork recipe. If I were on Next Food Network Star, pulled pork would be my signature dish. This would be assuming that for the first time ever a food show decided to hold a competition without a time limit. Ah well, one can dream. With pulled pork in mind, as it almost always is, I decided to stitch together a recipe that draws the very best from pulled pork and a few other interesting recipes found here and there. The result is a lighter, more weeknight friendly, totally mind blowing dish.
See? Silly excited.
This recipe gets most of its flavor from a surprising source. Balsamic vinegar makes up the bulk of the sauce, with other more traditional barbecue ingredients help it along. The amount of vinegar scared me a little, but the result was a balanced sauce that ended with a little vinegar kick. It makes you go back for more, just to figure out what it is you’re tasting. It’s vinegar, and it shouldn’t be limited to your salad.
Let’s start with the actual chicken. It’s so tender and not at all dry, all credit going to the slow cooker. It literally pulls apart with a fork, which you know because I shredded it with two of them.
The sauce, though. The sauce is a revelation. It has a cup of balsamic vinegar, which I was certain meant that it would be bracingly acidic and taste more like a salad dressing than barbecue sauce. But I was wrong. Mind you, there’s also a lot of sweetness balancing the vinegar, but you can definitely taste it and it’s not offensive at all.
The brown sugar, honey and ketchup bring the sweetness that we’ve all come to know and love about barbecue sauce, and the Worcestershire sauce is a nod to the beginning of it all, pulled pork.
With the added spice of the pickled jalapeños and a bit of freshness from the chopped cilantro (from my garden!) this dish is balanced. The buttery cornbread doesn’t hurt either, but you already knew that.
Promise me you’ll try this. I feel like it’s a good book in that I can’t really enjoy it until I talk it out with someone. Be that someone? Please?
Here’s the recipe!
- 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- Pickled jalapeños and chopped cilantro for serving
- Corn bread
- Layer the onions and garlic evenly in the bottom of a slow cooker. Add chicken on top. Season with salt and pepper then evenly pack brown sugar on top.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, ketchup, honey, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Pour evenly over chicken, then top with chicken stock just to make sure everything is covered.
- Set slow cooker to cook on high for 4 hours, turning chicken once.
- At 3 hours, remove chicken from slow cooker and shred with two forks. Return it to slow cooker and let it finish cooking with the lid of to slightly thicken the sauce, at least 30 minutes.
- Arrange corn bread on a plate and top with pulled chicken. Spoon a little extra sauce over then top with pickled jalapeños and chopped cilantro. (That’s optional, of course. K didn’t use jalapeños or cilantro and liked his just fine.)