Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Crockpot BBQ Chicken with Bacon

With camping comes campfire food, including peppered bacon for breakfast.  And who doesn't love bacon?  Jamie and I don't have bacon at home all that often - except for turkey bacon every now and then - but when I suggested turkey bacon for the camping trip, he gave me a look that said that wouldn't be at all acceptable.  Okay, okay, so we got real bacon.

We had a few pieces leftover, and it seemed like it would be a nice addition to BBQ chicken.  I've made BBQ chicken a few times in the crock pot, and it's succulent and tender every time, so if you haven't cooked chicken this way, I suggest you try it immediately!

Jamie and I eat dinner pretty late, so I don't mind waiting a few hours for the crock pot to do the work, but if you're in a hurry, just follow this same recipe, only bake it in the oven in a baking dish, covered with foil, for about an hour at 400 F, or until chicken is cooked through.

Last night, we made open-faced sandwiches with the shredded chicken and a few sliced tomatoes, with homemade Vanilla Bean Apple-Date Sauce on the side.  Completely simple and incredibly satisfying.

Printable Recipe

Crockpot BBQ Chicken with Bacon
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked but not too crispy, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
 Place all of the ingredients into your crock pot and stir so that everything is coated in the BBQ sauce.  Turn it to high, cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer chicken breasts to a plate and shred with two forks.  Return shredded meat to the pot and toss with the sauce until well coated.

Toast some thick slices of good bread, top with sliced tomatoes and the shredded chicken for a yummy open-faced sandwich.

Apple-Date Sauce infused with Vanilla Bean

Applesauce was a dinner staple when I was growing up...  along with bread and butter, beans and rice.  We were a family on a budget, after all!  When my mom asked me to set the table, one of my favorite things to do was to spoon applesauce into a pretty serving bowl, sprinkle it generously with cinnamon, then gently swirl the cinnamon into the applesauce.  Even then, I liked food to be visually appealing.  Wild rice, on the other hand...  not so appealing to a 10-year old, no matter how pretty the bowl is.

Last night, I put some chicken in the crock pot for dinner and was wondering what to have with it.  I found some apples in the fridge, along with an almost empty bag of dates in the cupboard (see my recipe for Date Swirl Cookies), and a vanilla bean nearing its expiration date; in spite of the hot day, freshly made applesauce sounded really good and homey.  Plus I always like using up ingredients in creative ways so that they don't go to waste.

Cinnamon would be pretty predictable in this recipe, so I decided to leave it out;  I wanted the flavor of the vanilla bean to come through instead, and I was really happy with the result.  The applesauce was so smooth and creamy, with a subtle vanilla flavor that really complements the apples and dates and a beautiful speckling of vanilla bean seeds all throughout.  Eat this sauce on its own with a spoon, on top of chicken or pork, or use it as a substitute for oil in baking--it'll be delicious!

Printable Recipe

Apple-Date Sauce infused with Vanilla Bean
  • 5 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 14 pitted dates, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out (use both the seeds and the bean pod--you'll remove the pod later)
  • 2 cups water
Place all ingredients into a large stockpot; bring to a boil over medium heat; cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Reduce to medium low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are softened.  Taste the liquid and adjust seasoning if desired.

Remove the vanilla bean pod from the pot.  Using an immersion blender, puree apples and liquid until smooth (or you can leave slightly chunky if you like).  Cool, then transfer to glass jars and store in the refrigerator.  Makes about 4 1/2 cups.