Monday, June 10, 2013

BBQ Chicken Spaghetti

A few years ago we were in Memphis, which is a great food town, and were sitting in one of the local barbeque joints that the car rental agent recommended. Looking over the menu, I wanted to try it all! This was real Memphis-style barbeque and something that is not only difficult to find in Michigan, but food that I don’t have any knack for preparing myself.

Between Ralph and I we probably ordered four or five different things. Among them was something called “BBQ Spaghetti.” I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when it arrived there was a plate full of regular spaghetti noodles, coated in the restaurant’s famous barbeque sauce, and it had pieces of meat mixed in (probably the scraps). I can’t begin to describe how delicious this was! 

There is a popular (particularly in the South) dish called “Chicken Spaghetti,” which is a casserole made with pieces of cooked chicken, broth, cheese, pimentos, condensed soup and other things. This is a good dish, but it wasn’t quite the route I wanted to take. I kept thinking of that BBQ spaghetti back in Memphis, and so I decided to create something that delivered the chicken, the BBQ sauce and the pasta. 

There are a number of reasons why I don’t prepare real barbequed meats. First, I have some idea but don’t really know how (I would love to learn). Second, I don’t have the right equipment. Third, I’ve had some barbeque that, while very tasty, was extremely dry. Instead, I chose to cook the meat in moist -heat and then broil on the sauce (I cook ribs the same way). I know this is a long way from actual barbeque, but the meat is super moist and tender, and I also get my BBQ fix.

Get out your slow-cooker or “Crock Pot.” Every time I use this appliance I wonder why I don’t use it more often. It will cook the chicken beautifully and insure it remains moist and tender. I used drumsticks and thighs, but if you prefer white meat you could just as easily use breasts (use smaller ones or cut large ones in half).  I also doubled this recipe as I had a few people coming for dinner!

BBQ Chicken Spaghetti
4 chicken legs (skin removed)
4 chicken thighs (skin removed)
2 medium onions, diced
1 cup liquid (use chicken stock/broth, apple juice, or water)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
2 cups BBQ sauce
½ lb spaghetti

In a slow-cooker, put down the chicken thighs, top with half of the diced onions. On top of that, add the chicken legs and then top those with the rest of the onions. Add liquid. Sprinkle in salt, pepper and paprika. Place lid on slow-cooker and cook on high for five hours.

After the chicken is cooked, turn on the oven broiler. Using a large slotted spoon, carefully (the chicken will be very tender) transfer chicken to a baking sheet lined with foil. Brush ½ cup of BBQ sauce on cooked chicken. Before you put the chicken under the broiler, have a large pot of water boiling for your spaghetti. Drop the spaghetti in the boiling water and cook as directed on package. Place chicken under the broiler.
Go back to the slow-cooker and using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions and any pieces of chicken meat that may have fallen off the bone to a sauce pan. Add 1 ½ cup of BBQ sauce to the onions. If you want to thin it out any, you can add some of the liquid from the slow-cooker, but I like my sauce thick.  Place sauce pan on low heat just to warm up the sauce. 

The chicken will be ready before the spaghetti is done. Keep an eye on the chicken. You want the BBQ sauce to bubble and start to brown, forming a nice crust on top of the chicken. Once this happens, remove chicken from oven and set aside. 

When the spaghetti is done, drain pasta from water and return to large pot. Add BBQ onion sauce to the spaghetti and toss around to coat all the noodles. Turn out into a large bowl or platter and top with whole pieces of chicken. Serve immediately.

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