Pulled Chicken in Guava Barbecue Sauce
When talking about regional Latin American food, the subject of heat is polarizing, especially for those countries who don’t really use it. Viewed as a generality that paints us all with the same brush and overlooks an incredible diversity of ingredients and flavors, most people, myself included, are quick to point out that Cuban food is spicy but not hot – though that’s not entirely true either. While it’s kept out of many traditional recipes, peppers pop up in the food of eastern Cuba and a few drops of hot sauce always work their way into camarones enchilados. I may balk at adding chipotle mayo to my Cuban sandwiches, but a small red bottle of Tabasco sauce stands guard at most Miami lunch counters. Still, when I was asked to develop a few recipes for McIlhenny Company’s Tabasco, I was hesitant at first. Deep into an intense recipe testing period, I didn’t see a way of working it in until I made pulled chicken cooked down with guava barbecue sauce. Spiked with a good dose of heat, it stood up to the guava paste, cut through the sweetness, and sharpened the flavors. It’s was a good enough reason to draw outside the lines. Happy Fourth! Pulled Chicken in Guava Barbecue Sauce
I could have easily used their habanero sauce but stuck with the classic red sauce instead.
For the poached chicken:
1 whole chicken breast, bone-in and skin-on
1/2 medium white onion, quartered
3 sprigs of fresh cilantro
3 sprigs of fresh mint
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
For the BBQ sauce:
12 ounces guava paste, cubed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Tabasco red sauce
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the marinade:
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
4 brioche hamburger rolls, split
1 cup romaine lettuce, sliced
1 plum tomato, diced
In a 5-quart heavy pot, combine the chicken breast, onion, cilantro, mint, salt, and peppercorns with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer partially covered until cooked through, 20 minutes. Allow to cool down completely in the broth. Remove chicken, de-bone and shred. Drain broth and reserve. Discard solids.
Combine all ingredients for the BBQ sauce and pulse until smooth. Pour purée into a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, mash together garlic, salt, and pepper to a smooth paste. Stir in the orange juice and fresh oregano.
Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet until hot but not smoking over medium heat. Off heat, carefully pour the orange juice into skillet, it will bubble and spurt, then cover immediately. Return to medium heat, add in sliced onions, and cover again until steamed through, 2-3 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken and 1/2 cup reserved chicken broth. Stir in guava bbq sauce and cook over medium until most of the liquid is absorbed, 5-10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Fill each brioche roll with 1/2 cup of shredded chicken and top with lettuce, tomato, and additional Tabasco sauce to taste.