Desperation dinners: Barbecue recipes feed crowd

Barbecued Pulled Chicken sandwiches are perfect for a Memorial Day gathering.

Alicia Ross for Desperation Dinn

Memorial Day is almost here, and that means the unofficial start to deck parties and big summer gatherings.

Sure, you can always fire up the grill and cook batches of Barbecued Chicken, Shrimp Dijon or Amazing Steaks. (Check out for these recipes and more in the "On the Grill" section of the Recipe Box.) But what if you don't have a grill? Or just don't feel like being the grill master for the day?

When I moved last year, my grill stayed with the house as part of the beautiful deck and dining patio I had built several years back. Even though I've inherited a grill from friends and it works perfectly fine, I'm finding that I'm looking for more and more picnic and deck-party food that doesn't require a grill.

Enter today's ultra-desperate version of Barbecued Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Barbecued Slaw. By using rotisserie chickens available at most large grocery stores, marts and membership-club warehouses, cooking the chicken is completed. Last week, I snagged a couple of chickens on sale, ready to eat, for $3.49 each. That's at least a couple of dollars cheaper than a whole raw chicken at the same store. But even at the regular price, the chickens are almost always less than $6 each.

You can make our favorite barbecue sauce, Fred's Red, also available on www., or use your favorite purchased sauce. For testing purposes with this recipe, I used Sweet Baby Ray's Award-Winning Barbecue Sauce, and it turned out delicious.

For my big "cookout dinner," I ended up serving 20 people for less than $50, with leftovers! So not only is this desperate because it takes 30 minutes to throw together; it's cheap, too.

I'll be turning to these delicious sandwiches again soon and hope you enjoy them as much as my guests and I did.

Start to finish: 30 minutes.

1 rotisserie chicken

2/3 cup barbecue sauce of choice, plus more for serving

8 sandwich rolls

Barbecued Slaw, for serving, recipe follows

Skin and bone the chicken. Discard the skin and bones, and place the meat in a bowl.

Add the barbecue sauce, and toss. (The meat can warm in a crock-pot for up to two hours on low.) Add more sauce, to taste, if desired.

Serve on sandwich buns with slaw.

Yield: 8 sandwiches

Approximate values per serving: 460 calories (32 percent from fat), 10 g fat (8 g saturated), 100 mg cholesterol, 17 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, 750 mg sodium.

Barbecued Slaw

Start to finish: 15 minutes to prep, at least one hour to chill.

Yield: about 6 cups.


1 large green cabbage (about 3 pounds)

1 large onion

1/2 cup barbecue sauce of choice

1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar

1 cup water

1/4 cup light mayonnaise


Shred the cabbage and onion into a heat-resistant bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the barbecue sauce, vinegar and water to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the cabbage and onion. Stir well to mix.

Chill for at least one hour to marinate.

Stir in the mayonnaise and serve, or cover and refrigerate for up to three days.

Approximate values per 1/4 cup: 30 calories (28 percent from fat), 1g fat (0 g saturated), trace cholesterol, 1g protein, 5g carbohydrates, 2g dietary fiber, 75mg sodium.

Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are co-authors of "Desperation Dinners!" (Workman, 1997), "Desperation Entertaining!" (Workman, 2002) and "Cheap. Fast. Good!" (Workman, 2006). Contact them at Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016, or send email to tellus@kitchen