Smoked Chicken Breast Stuffed with Seasoned Cherries
November 28, 2018
Stuffed and Smoked Chicken Breasts
Hot smoked chicken breasts make any meal exciting! Salads, sandwiches, soups, pasta dishes — you name it! — will benefit if you add some smoked lean chicken. But cooking skinless and boneless chicken breasts is easy and challenging at the same time. To make them tender and juicy we need to protect their moisture and to make them uniformly thick. Usually, a combination of pounding and brining is a solution. In this recipe, we make a pocket to stuff it with moist and/or fatty ingredients instead of pounding. As a bonus, different stuffings add interesting flavors to otherwise mild-tasting chicken.
How to Make a Pocket
See the demo to learn how to cut a pocket for stuffing and use this skill for other cooking methods — poaching, roasting, deep-frying chicken breasts.
Chicken breasts can be stuffed with some frozen compound butter (e.g., with herbs, spices) or with aromatic vegetables, or with sweet and sour seasoned fruit. Fruit stuffing might be surprising, but adding slightly tart fruit to meat or poultry dishes is traditional for many regional cuisines. Choose apples, plums, cherries, grapes with pronounced tart notes for your experiments.
Dissolve salt and sugar in boiling water, then add cold water and stir.
Trim chicken breasts if needed to make them the same size. Remove tenderloins to use for other dishes. Make a pocket on the smooth side of the chicken breast. Brine chicken breasts for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than for 1 hour at room temperature.
To prepare the stuffing, wash the cherries, remove pits and stems, and slice or chop them. In a bowl, combine sliced cherries, kosher salt, finely chopped thyme, toasted garlic, peppers, and olive oil.
Prepare the stovetop smoker: 1 1/2 tbsp of apple wood chips on the bottom, a drip tray covered with aluminum foil on top, a smoking rack inside the tray. Remove from the brine and pat dry chicken breasts. Stuff them with seasoned cherries, spray or brush with olive oil, grind more black pepper on top if you like, and place on the rack.
Close the lid and smoke over high heat for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the lid closed for another 15 minutes.
Open the lid and check the temperature the temperature in the center of the chicken breast. It should be 145F. Serve hot or cold. Keep smoked chicken breasts refrigerated in a closed container for up to 4 days.