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Pulled Chicken in Guava Barbecue Sauce

IMG_7552When 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.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sounds amazing and the back story about heat or no heat was instructive as well! -renee

    4 July 2013
  2. Dany #

    I’m Cuban too (I live in Canada since 2006) and I have to explain to people that we do use spices but our food is not hot like mexican food which is what they group us with. I remember my grandmother having a bottle of “picante” but it was rare to see anyone else use it. I love hot sauces now because of my Ghanaian friends and because I love thai food but it took a while to get used to the heat. Also, most Canadians who vacation in Cuba tend to think Cuban food is awful and bland because they visit the island where there is a lack of even the most basic ingredients and spices. Unfortunately, IMHO, to find great Cuban food you have to go abroad where there is access to ingredients and also where Cubans have been loyal to the traditional recipes while also incorporating elements from other cuisines, so you get the best of both worlds.

    This recipe definitely sounds great, I’ve been meaning to use guava paste in barbecue sauces and glazes, I will definitely try this one!

    5 July 2013
  3. yum!!!

    10 July 2013
  4. Teri #

    this recipe is exquisite. i like to stick a chillie pepper inside the chicken’s cavity and when done begin by quartering thhe delicacy, sounds yummy when finished and chipolte aoili is added to the mix then i sandwich it with some breadfrom Tampa. gotta run, seeya.

    14 July 2013
  5. I have a recipe on my blog that’s similar but with a Cuban mojo sauce. LOVE your blog…you have a new follower! 😉

    15 July 2013
  6. Looks Yummy!

    21 July 2013
  7. this sounds sooooo good!

    26 August 2013
  8. cheryllovesfood #

    That makes my mouth water! I can’t wait to give this one a try, thanks for sharing!!

    5 September 2013
  9. I adore the mix between savory and sweet your blog is amazing… would love if you take a moment to check 🙂

    8 September 2013
  10. I Never heard of pulled chicken. Sounds amazing!

    28 September 2013

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  1. Spicy Chicken In a Chocolate-Pepper Sauce | Inspirations Fine Catering, Inc.

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