Pulled Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches on Sweet Potato Biscuits and Mini Mac 'n' Cheese Bites
Southern Hors d'Oeuvres
by Victoria Challancin
It may have been almost 37 years since I lived in the U.S., with one brief interlude in Colorado sprinkled within, but I am still a Southern girl at heart. Perhaps it is because we are approaching Day of the Dead here in Mexico with loving reminders everywhere of those we love who have passed on, perhaps because my birthday was last week and I was a bit whiney about missing my family, or perhaps because my taste buds just somehow required a dose of good Southern food, in last week's cooking class I chose comfort food as a theme. Memories of my Aunt Sibby's sweet potato biscuits, my Dad's barbecue, my Mom's cole slaw and macaroni and cheese all coalesced into this offering of true Southern hors d'oeuvres: Pulled Barbecue Chicken on Sweet Potato Biscuits with Cole Slaw served with Mini Bites of Macaroni and Cheese. Whew! Now there is a mouthful full of promising taste sensations. And they really did deliver.
Although these could be served in full, adult-sized portions, I chose to make them mini, which makes them a perfect appetizer (or main course if you go full size) for a casual-themed party. I had wanted to use pulled pork, but because I didn't have time to make it properly in class, I chose chicken instead. Worked perfectly.
Pulled Barbecue Chicken on Sweet Potato Biscuits with Cole Slaw
Recipe: Pulled Barbecue Chicken
(Recipe by Victoria Challancin)
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs and breasts
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce of choice (or use the following recipe)
Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a sautée pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the smoked paprika, stirring to mix well. Add the chicken pieces and barbecue sauce. Stir to coat chicken. Once the mixture begins to boil, cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the chicken is cooked through and very soft, remove the chicken from the pan and place it in a wide-mouthed bowl. Shred the chicken using two forks.
Heat the sauce again, bringing to a boil. Allow to simmer uncovered over medium-low heat until reduced by half. Return chicken to the sauce and heat through.
Serve with sweet potato biscuits, a dollop of cole slaw, and a slice of dill pickle. Extra barbecue sauce can be served on the side.
Cook's Note: This is a super simple barbecue sauce that was great, especially when cooked for so long with the chicken. The original recipe suggests refrigerating this overnight, but this isn't necessary if you are cooking it as I did in the above recipe.
Emeril's Barbecue Sauce
(Recipe by Emeril Lagasse from Food Network)
1 3/4 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons molasses
2 teaspoons Creole or whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
Dash hot pepper sauce
Dash Worcestershire sauce (I used several dashes)
2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
Pinch freshly ground black pepper (I used more)
In a food processor fitted with a metal blad, combine all of the ingredients. Process until smooth, about 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Pulse 2 or 3 times. Refrigerate overnight before using (if possible!).
Carmen and Laura making the biscuits
Carmen, cutting the biscuits with a small glass about 2 inches in diameter
Cook's Notes: Both my beloved Aunts Sibby and Peggy made fantastic sweet potato biscuits and, being good Southern Ladies born in Georgia, both were know for them. I would have used the family recipe, but the measurements were lacking, not needed by knowing cooks. Because I must use measurements in class, I chose a recipe from the internet. This version is not as full of sweet potatoes as my family recipe, but still delicious (you could add more...). It also calls for grating frozen butter into the dry ingredients, which was a new technique to me. These were light and delicious served hot with butter for breakfast the following day. Also, these would be a nice addition to any American Thanksgiving meal. We used a small glass to cut them (two bites), but a tequila or shot glass would make even tinier single bite-sized biscuits. We patted them out instead of rolling them.
Sweet Potato Biscuits
(Recipe from Chow.com)
Makes 12 large biscuits (or 18 to 20 smaller ones)
Note: To make tender, fluffy biscuits, less handling, not more, is the golden rule. Use the same minimal touch you would reserve for pie pastry, kneading the dough just long enough for the ingredients to combine (about 30 seconds), then pat or roll it out as lightly as you can before cutting.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup baked, mashed sweet potato (we boiled ours in water)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
Heavy cream for brushing the tops
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a separate large bowl,mix together milk and mashed sweet potato until evenly combined.
Grate frozen butter through the large holes of a box grater and toss with dry ingredients. until butter is coated. Add milk mixture and mix lightly until dough forms a shaggy mass. Turn out mixture onto a floured surface and knead just until dough comes together. (The dough will not be smooth).
Pat into a circle and use a floured rolling pin to roll dough to a thickness of about 3/4 -inch. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cookie cutter, or glass, cut the dough into rounds. Gather leftover dough into a circle, re-roll, and cut until you have 8 large biscuits ( or smaller ones as we have done).
Place biscuits on a baking sheet, brush tops with heavy cream, and bake until the bottoms are golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.
The uncooked biscuits before brushing with heavy cream
Juanita, filling the biscuits with the barbecued chicken
Laura, mounting the filled biscuits with cole slaw
Recipe: Cole Slaw
(Recipe by Victoria Challancin)
3 cups finely shredded green cabbage
1 cup finely shredded purple cabbage
1 cup shredded peeled carrots
1/4 cup grated red or white onion
1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seeds
2 tablespoons sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and chill for at least 1 hour before using. Serve on top of the pulled chicken and top with a dill pickle slice.
The oh-so-fun Mini Macs
Cook's Notes: Macaroni and Cheese is another of those recipes I never use a recipe for, but when I saw how cute these mini mac 'n' cheese bites were, I knew I had to use the idea. The original recipe calls for American cheese as well, which I didn't use. I also added a bit of dry mustard, a dash of hot sauce, and a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce to the bechamel sauce, because my Mother always did. For the topping, I mixed the Parmesan cheese with a bit of Panko crumbs and some paprika for a bit of added crunch. These were made in a mini muffin pan, but you could certainly use a regular muffin tin if you wanted individual portions and not hors d'oeuvres bites. After cooking 1/2-pound of macaroni, I ended up using less when adding to the sauce as I think a whole half pound would have made them too dry. I opted for Pam to grease the muffin tin, simple because it was easy. Butter would have been a healthier choice.
(Adapted slightly from a recipe by Grace Parisi for Food and Wine Magazine)
Makes 36 to 42 mini macs
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (I used a bit less)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing (or use Pam)
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or more, if needed)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
2 packed cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
A couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon Spanish paprika
For the topping:
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons Panko
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente. Drain, shaking off the excess water.
Grease the mini muffin tin with either butter or Pam. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess. (You may need a bit more cheese).
In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients together. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the Cheese and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, egg yolk, and paprika. Fold in the cooked macaroni.
Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the mixture into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle with the topping mixture.
Bake ;the mini macs in oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve.
A plate of Mini Mac 'n' Cheese Bites
Fourteen pesos is a little over one U.S. dollar--for my overseas readers
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved.
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