Nov 1, 2010

Smoky Chicken Breasts

Smoky Chicken Breasts

I love me some smoked chicken, but in all honesty; it’s not always as easy to fix as it seems. They can easily get over-cooked, over-smoked, dry and flavorless. Sure, you can buy smoked chicken breasts in the supermarket but come on, that takes the fun out of cooking! Plus, they don’t taste as good as they do home-smoked. Nothing ever does.

The secret to a great tasting smoked chicken breast is the chicken brine. It’s very hard to get it right without brining the chicken first. The right brine for the exact right amount of time makes all the difference.

I kept this one basic because I needed the chicken for a specific recipe, but feel free to add as much flavor and spiciness to them as you like. Add honey, fennel seeds, a hint of sugar, curry powder, cayenne, orange juice, lemon peel or tabasco for extra flavor. Basically anything goes.


Ingredients:

3 chicken fillets (or 4)
smoking chips (I’ve used apple)
10 cups of water
1/2 cup salt (scant)
black bruised peppercorns
black whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
pinch of dried thyme
pinch of dried rosemary


Directions:

Start by pouring 8 cups (2 liters) of water in a large pot and add 1/2 a cup (scant) salt. This brine, though it’s basic, will add flavor and tenderness to the chicken.
Smoky Chicken Breasts

I’ve added bay leaves, bruised and whole black peppercorns, cloves, bruised garlic, dried rosemary and thyme (but you can use fresh as well).
Smoky Chicken Breasts

The extra flavors you add to the salted water will be carried to the meat as well. I kept it fairly basic but the sky is the limit. Add whatever you feel like.
Smoky Chicken Breasts

Bring the water to a boil.
Smoky Chicken Breasts

As soon as it boils, turn off the heat and add 2 cups really cold water.
Smoky Chicken Breasts

Let the brine cool off completely and then put it in the fridge. A lot of people let their brine get to room temperature (somewhere between 65F and 70F) before using it, that is a no go, people. Safety for all. The brine should stay below 40F (4C). So store it in your fridge until it gets to that point. It’s like canning; do it right and safe or don’t do it at all.

Go outside to get some fresh air and shoot some pretty autumn pics while you’re at it.
Smoky Chicken Breasts

As soon as the brine has the right temperature, add the chicken. Pop the lid on and put the pan in the fridge. Leave it there for 1 1/2 to max 2 hours. I prefer 1 1/2 hours, don’t want it too salty. Make sure the chicken is completely submerged.
Smoky Chicken Breasts

After 1 1/2 hours, I remove the chicken from the brine (toss the brine), pat them dry with paper towels and let them air dry for a while. I only rinse when I have to use the drippings and don’t want them to be salty.

When you do rinse, for God’s sake, be careful. It’s a sure way to spread bacteria throughout your kitchen.
Smoky Chicken Breasts

Soak a moderate amount of apple smoking chips for about 1/2 to 1 hour. I’ve used apple, but you can use cherry or any kind of combination. Don’t overdo it though and keep it on the light side, chicken doesn’t need a lot of smokiness.
Smoky Chicken Breasts

I fired up the pit and got my Big Green Egg (with plate setter) steady at 200F (100C).  Drained the smoking chips, added them, put the dripping pan in there and placed the chicken breasts on the grill.
Smoky Chicken Breasts

I know that it generally takes them 2 to 2 1/2 hours at this temperature to be fully cooked. I didn’t check them until 2 hours afterwards and they were a perfect 165F (75C). Chicken needs to have this core temperature in order for it to be safe to eat.
Smoky Chicken Breasts

Let them rest (wrapped in tinfoil) for 5 minutes before slicing them.

These are so good. Perfectly seasoned with a really nice, light smoky flavor. My kinda chicken.
Smoky Chicken Breasts

Smoky Chicken Breasts
Ingredients
    3 or 4 chicken fillets
    smoking chips (I’ve used apple)
    10 cups of water
    1/2 cup salt (scant)
    black bruised peppercorns
    black whole peppercorns
    2 bay leaves
    pinch of dried thyme
    pinch of dried rosemary

Directions
    Start by pouring 8 cups (2 liters) of water in a large pot and add 1/2 a cup (scant) salt and add the spices and herbs. bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat and pour in 2 cups cold water.

    Let the brine cool off completely and then put it in the fridge. Keep it below 40F (4C) for safety purposes. As soon as the brine has the right temperature, add the chicken. Pop the lid on and put the pan in the fridge. Leave it there for 1 1/2 to max 2 hours. Make sure the chicken is completely submerged.

    After 1 1/2 hours, I remove the chicken from the brine (toss the brine), pat them dry with paper towels and let them air dry for a while. I only rinse when I have to use the drippings and don’t want them to be salty.

    Soak a moderate amount of smoking chips for about 1/2 to 1 hour. I fired up the pit and got my Big Green Egg (with plate setter) steady at 200F (100C). Drain the smoking chips add them to the hot coals, put the dripping pan in there and placed the chicken breasts on the grill.

    Check them after 2 hours. The chicken breasts need to have a 165F (75C) core temperature in order for it to be safe to eat. Let them rest (wrapped in tinfoil) for 5 minutes before slicing them.
Meal type: main course
Servings: 3 to 4
Copyright: © kayotickitchen.com
Oct 12, 2010

Bacon and Egg Bread

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