It’s a very exciting time of the year for us football fans! This weekend’s plans might be based around which bowl game your alma mater is playing in. Or you are like us, watching all of the Wild Card games to see who our Broncos are playing next week. It’s a weekend dedicated to the couch for some good ol’ fashioned football, which means you’ll need great food to keep you cheering all game long. Television can be rather hazardous for people watching their diets. I don’t know about you, but I am instantly mesmerized by the screen and can sit and aimlessly watch and eat for hours without really realizing it. Chips and salsa, crackers and dip… it’s like an endless conveyor belt from bowl to tummy. I decided to take control of the mindless eating situation by making one, sit-down meal for football and eating around halftime. The results were positively delicious.
I have made these sandwiches twice now because they were such a hit the first go round. It all starts with a good pulled chicken, simply baked in the oven until it reaches juicy perfection. Smother the chicken with an apricot chutney. Sweet, savory, and with the perfect amount of spice… this chutney will have your taste buds tap dancing all game long. Top it all with a thick slice of pepper jack cheese and you have a perfect, unusual, strangely satisfying sandwich. If you are totally overwhelmed by the list of ingredients in the chutney, I won’t tell anyone if you go and buy a pre-bottled version. I like this particular recipe because the outcome is authentic and really full of spice. But you can easily buy pre-bottled versions at a grocery store. If can’t bare to settle with just one dish for your game, make these as sliders for a pack-some-punch appetizer. People love something different and this sandwich is just that.
Makes: 6-7 sandwiches; 18 slider size appetizers
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes Total Time: 1 hour
4 chicken breasts
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
For Apricot Chutney:
1 cup dried apricots, medium dice
1 red bell pepper, medium dice
1 tbs whole grain mustard (Dijon is ok as well)
3 tbs red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tbs honey
1 tbs sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tsp fresh ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 lb thick-sliced pepper jack cheese
6 sandwich rolls (I found mini challah rolls)
OR 18 slider buns
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Season the chicken on both sides with the cumin, garlic powder, paprika, and salt and pepper. Put into a small (8×8) baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for about 35 minutes, or until completely cooked through. Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. Use two forks to pull the apart the chicken so that it is a shredded consistency. Keep covered until ready to serve.
- While the chicken is baking, make the apricot chutney. A chutney is a mixture of fruits, vegetables, and spices that has a jelly-like consistency. It’s more savory than a jam or jelly, but used in the same way. You can spread it on crackers or use it as a condiment like we are for this recipe. To make the chutney, combine all of the ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Heat on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, or until the flavors and textures have melded. Use a rubber spatula to stir every few minutes while the chutney is cooking so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
- To assemble the sandwiches, place about 1/4 cup chicken onto each roll (about half for a slider). Top with a good-sized helping of chutney and a slice of pepper jack cheese. If you want to make the sandwiches in advance, line each on a cookie sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 250 for 10-15 minutes before serving.
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