Smoked Chicken Jalapeno Poppers

I had a busy weekend – I went to a new BBQ restaurant Saturday, with a large group of friends, and I want to put a review up.  But, before I do that, I want to share my experiment with a new recipe that I worked on Sunday.  I sort of made this up, but it’s Jalapenos, stuffed with smoked chicken, chihuahua cheese, mild salsa verde, and thick cut bacon.

First – smoking the chicken.  I did a package of split chicken breasts, and a package of leg quarters – it was a good amount of food!.

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Note above I included in the background 2 of the main ingredients in my rub…paprika and brown sugar.  This is pretty standard for a lot of rubs, you would just add some salt, and other spices to taste.  Many variations can be had this way!  The rub went on all of the meat, under the skin, every place I could.

For my smoker, which is fed by propane…I added a combination of apple wood chunks, and Pear wood (from my pear tree in the yard).  Then just tossed the chicken in – JUST fitting it all on one grate.

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Luckily, the weather was very cooperative (it began raining about 2 hours after I was finished).  I cooked it hotter than I normally would for pork or brisket…to help render the fat from the skin, so it was done in about 3 1/2 hours.

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I was going for about 161 to 162 degrees for the breasts (above), and hit it pretty well.  Note my ThermaPop instant read thermometer, one of the best purchases I ever made!

Below, I kept the quarters on a bit longer, I was looking for a temp closer to 170.

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The breast meat was perfect, cooked through out, and very VERY most.  It could have used a bit more smoke though, but that’s sometimes the issue when cooking chicken, as it is not on long enough. (and I did not keep up with the wood like I should have).

Now, for the Jalepenos – this is my first time trying any version of poppers, so it was a true experiment.   My wife bought 20 Jalepenos home – to prepare, I cut off the top, slit one side, and removed everything inside…then gave it an ice water bath to remove as much heat as possible.

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I was then going to grill the peppers, but discovered I had no charcoal, so I went with ‘plan B’, cast iron grill on top of my stove.  Brushed with some olive oil, I charred the peppers, removing when they began to soften.

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Then it was a matter of cutting up the chicken into small pieces, and stuffing them inside each pepper – I had sorted the peppers into ‘white and dark’ meat piles – in retrospect I am not sure why I did this, there was no point.  Below is, more or less, the finished product.  The peppers are stuffed with cut up pieces of my smoked chicken, including some skin in each (I wanted to make sure my rub got in there for flavor), some grated chihuahua cheese, a bit of salsa verde (I bought Chi-Chi’s, it was the only one I could find the night before, AND it was on sale!  I tested the verde sauce on some eggs that morning, and approved the flavor!).  Rather than wrapping them in bacon (which would have been a bit overpowering of one flavor…well that, and I was having trouble with the actual wrapping!), I laid pieces of cooked bacon on top, then gave the final product a bake, to finish the bacon, and allow some of the bacon fat to render into the poppers.

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The resulting product was brought over to a friend’s house the next evening, and were devoured with shouts of praise – always a nice boost for the ego!  My wife, who has no problem with giving a more critical review (which is extremely helpful) said they were good, but needed ‘something’.  She was right!  There was a needed flavor or seasoning that was still needed.  Talking it over at work the next day rendered some good ideas.  I will try to re-season the cut up pieces of chicken, with additional rub, bake it on for a couple of minutes, and see if that does the trick.  Another good comment was – maybe I took TOO much heat out of the peppers (there was none, so in that…I was very successful).  I may skip the ice bath, and just give them a quick rinse instead.   In general, I think this would be a huge success with pulled pork (smoked pork shoulder), some smoked St. Louis rib meat – hec, I might even try lamb (I had GREAT success with my one and only attempt at smoking a bone in leg of lamb!).

I thought this would be a good 1st post, as it shows the trials of experimenting, and the steps I take to perfect a new recipe (and this is a work in progress).  The chicken itself – I just finished a breast for lunch…and wow!  Aside from the NUMEROUS comments about how great it smelled (as it was microwaving at work), it reheated beautifully.  The skin COULD have been a bit more tender, but was not bad.  I felt that I ‘rushed’ the chicken in the smoker – as I had a lot going on that day…but that’s the great thing about testing out ideas in the kitchen or smoker – even your ‘near misses’ are highly prized and edible!

I am also slowly getting the idea of how a blog works, and will update this one with the ‘about’ section, and have a couple different categories.  My next blog will be a review of the restaurant we went to Saturday night (took plenty of pictures).  I am trying to post twice a week,  any and all comments are welcome! (especially from you seasoned bloggers!).

For now, I am out of here!

Ray

 

 

 

 

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The road to smoke infused BBQ – First Steps

I finally decided to create a food blog – I will mostly focus on the art of BBQ (smoking meats), but will include tests of new recipes and ideas, reviews of restaurants, and activities. Mostly, I want to share my trials with learning how to smoke meats, the countless mistakes I have made, and help point people in the right direction.

I recently earned my certification as a KCBS Certified BBQ Judge, which will allow me to participate as a judge for any KCBS sponsored BBQ competitions. I also want to put a team together, and start competing.

As I create new articles here, I will also reveal more about who I am, and what I hope to accomplish with this Blog, and cooking.  This weekend, I am going to a new BBQ place up in Mt. Prospect (Saturday night), and Sunday I am experimenting with a new idea for an appetizer I am creating, for a party Monday – I will post detailed information on that, with pictures, and comments from friends and family.

My real goal is to promote smoking (again…talking about meats, not tobacco!) in the Chicago area…but especially in the far west suburbs, where I live.  I believe my area is seriously lacking quality food, and I desperately want to change that. I also want to help others who are just beginning with smoking, so they do not make the same mistakes I have.  Mostly, I am trying to create something enjoyable, full of solid information, pictures, and ideas.

My first entry, is just a (boring) introduction…but my next few will be far better (I promise).

Signing off for now,

Ray