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For football season, try barbecue chicken sliders with an apple cabbage slaw

They can be prepped ahead of time, then assembled the day of the game.
Barbecue chicken sliders with apple and cabbage slaw. [MICHELLE STARK | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Oct. 1

One of the things you learn when you start cooking most of your food is that a lot of other food is Too Much. Too sweet, too smooth, too full of preservatives and other things that render familiar ingredients addictive yet unrecognizable.

Take store-bought sauces and condiments, for instance. So many do not resemble fresh, from-scratch versions. Mustard is less pungent, ketchup is more sugar than tomato, salad dressings are oil bombs creepily devoid of texture. And don’t get me started on mayonnaise.

I don’t mean to be a crank. I will put ketchup on almost anything. But if you’ve never made your own sauce or condiment, now is the time to start.

Ease in with this barbecue-type sauce that you can slather over chicken, pork, steak, even something like a baked potato or roasted sweet potatoes. I am not promising the most authentic barbecue sauce of your life, especially because that term can mean different things depending on where you’ve spent the most time eating barbecue.

What we’re going for is a slightly sweet, slightly tangy, savory sauce you can use to coat pulled chicken, which gets roasted with some complementary seasonings until very tender. Because it is football season and I love a theme, we’re making sliders.

This pulled chicken is very versatile. Consider using it as the base for a protein bowl, in a frittata, atop toast, scattered over nachos. And for some textural contrast on the sliders or on your nacho bar, try this simple apple-cabbage slaw.

Don’t be turned off by the large ingredient list with this recipe; you can make each of the components ahead of time, then assemble the sliders at your party.

If you can find those little slider buns, great. If not, large hamburger buns cut into quarters should work.

And consider doubling the sauce recipe so you have extra, because everyone will want extra. Kraft, who?

Barbecue Chicken Sliders With Apple and Cabbage Slaw

For the chicken:

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

For the barbecue sauce:

1 cup ketchup

½ cup white vinegar

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon onion powder

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the slaw:

½ small red cabbage, cored and thinly shredded

1 small red apple, cored, quartered and cut into matchsticks

1 bunch scallions (white and tender green parts), chopped

½ cup Greek yogurt

¼ cup honey

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Juice of 1 small lemon

Grated zest from 1 small lemon

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Drizzle oil all over chicken and generously coat with seasoning mixture, shaking off excess. Place chicken in baking dish.

Bake until chicken is cooked through, or reads an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 25 minutes.

Cover chicken loosely with foil and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Shred with two forks.

For the sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes and then remove from the heat. Use immediately or pour into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Toss chicken in sauce.

For the slaw: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Make sure the cabbage is thoroughly coated with the wet ingredients. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.

Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times

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