Chipotle-Lemongrass Barbecue Chicken

Another WKIO classic from five years ago, this sauce is a mash-up of Russ’ Eastern North Carolinian heritage with two of the most overpowered (and over-publicized) flavors. For those unfamiliar, Eastern North Carolina sauces are vinegar-based, often used as a mop for slow roasted pork. Skipping high-sugar tomato-based sauces entirely, I was able to introduce new flavors to update a childhood standby.

Otherwise, combining two assertive flavors like chipotle and lemongrass reveals oft-overlooked subtleties in both, creating an intense, yet delicate flavor — hence using poached chicken in lieu of sturdier pork.

About 3 quarts water
3 tablespoons ground chipotle powder
half package (approx. 2 ounces) about dried lemongrass (available in Asian markets or here)
1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried basil
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

Fill saucepan with water and add all ingredients except chicken.  Bring to a boil.  Add chicken and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 6-8 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken and place onto a cutting board to cool.  Once cool, pull chicken into strands with fingers.  Return liquid to a boil.  Boil until liquid reduces to 1/2 or 3/4.
Remove from heat and strain liquid into a separate bowl or saucepan to separate solids.  Discard solids.  Return strained liquid to heat and add vinegar.  Continue to simmer 5-10 minutes.  Add chicken and stir until meat is thoroughly covered in sauce.  Cook for additional 5 minutes or until chicken absorbs most of the sauce.
Remove from heat, taste and add pepper as necessary.

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