US-31 BBQ Inspired Chicken Sandwiches

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As a child, my family traveled often to Muskegon, a smallish town on the Western coast of Michigan. An absolute must was a stop at US-31 BBQ. It is a tiny restaurant with a very memorable, delicious relish sauce that gets poured over smoked ham and pork. I decided to give it a try on pulled chicken and just as I thought, it is incredible.

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A friend recently told me you can (and should) put chicken breasts in a slow cooker and heat on low for about 4 hours. The result is juicy chicken with minimal effort. It shreds well and is a base for so many options – enchiladas, chicken salad, pulled chicken sandwiches, etc. This was a life-changing discovery. Gone are the days where I dry out chicken.

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This recipe may seem absolutely ridiculous because it mixes every basic condiment, but I tell you it is magical and amazing. Just take my word and give it a try. If you ever find yourself around Muskegon, Michigan, go directly to US-31 BBQ and try the real thing.

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Relish Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sweet relish
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups finely shredded cabbage (do this by using a cuisinart food processor – cabbage should be VERY finely shredded)
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • about 12 slider buns

Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30-40 minutes. At this point, you can place sauce in an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to a week.

To make sandwiches, place chicken breasts in slow cooker and heat on low for 4 hours. Once cooked through, remove breasts (allow to cool slightly) and shred. If there is a lot of juice left in the slow cooker, remove a little so relish sauce does not get too thin. Replace shredded chicken and add 1 cup of relish sauce. Heat on low for at least 30 minutes, but can leave on warm until ready to use.

Heat remaining relish sauce on stovetop to warm through. Place about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of shredded chicken on each slider bun. Top with additional relish sauce and serve warm.

Variation: Use thinly sliced deli ham instead of chicken, warm slightly, and top with relish sauce. Use rotisserie chicken instead of cooking chicken yourself for a super quick meal. You can use just about any meat.

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