Hello and welcome to this edition of the smoking meat newsletter! I am excited to share my bacon wrapped chicken breast recipe that is not only beautiful and tasty, but it's also very simple. Chicken breasts have never been my favorite part of the chicken and when there's a bucket, I'm the one diving for the thighs and drumsticks but this recipe makes me change my mind about breast meat every time.
In the recipe below, I will show you how to make the white meat super juicy, super flavorful and do it in right around 5 hours.
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Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts
What's that catch phrase… "bacon makes everything better"? Or maybe it's, "Everything's better with bacon"..
At any rate, I have to agree that bacon is an amazing thing and it can make almost anything taste just a little better. Wrapping chicken breasts in bacon is not a new idea but I do think it's something that not a lot of people think of when it comes to ways to keep lean meat moist and protected from drying out while in the smoker.
Any time I have a lean piece of meat whether it's chicken breast or even rabbit or other wild game, bacon is my first choice when it comes to adding in a little fat to keep it moist while it cooks in the smoker.
In this issue, I have purchased a half dozen chicken breast fillets with no skin and we are going to turn these into something simply amazing! Read on..
What You'll Need
- 4-6 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
- 2 jalapeno's
- 1 each red, orange and yellow sweet peppers
- 2 packages of regular cut bacon (3 slices per breast)
- Jeff's naked rib rub recipe
- Jeff's barbecue sauce recipe
Brining the Chicken Breasts (optional but recommended)
Yep..that's right! I recommend that you brine these before smoking them as this will add some moistness to the meat and will keep the meat from drying out so much on the inside while it cooks. The breast of the chicken is the driest part of the chicken and I for one don't like dry meat of any kind especially chicken.
If you have not heard of brining, it's actually quite simple. In its most basic form, you dissolve kosher salt into cold water to make a briny solution. The meat is soaked in this solution for several hours to allow some of the water to be drawn into the meat. There is some different opinions when it comes to what actually happens from a scientific standpoint so we won't split hairs on that but suffice it to say that somehow, the solution gets drawn into the meat along with a little of the salt and it causes the meat to be a lot juicier when it's finished cooking than it would be if you did not brine it.
I would also like to add that whatever is in the brine gets into the meat.. the really cool thing about this is that you can add things like hot sauce, fruit juice, beer, Worcestershire, and just about anything else you can think of and after soaking the meat in the brine, the flavors that were added to the brine will end up inside of the meat.
You can also add things like rosemary, thyme, and even cinnamon but if you add things that do not easily dissolve, you will need to heat the brine to a low simmer and hold it there for about 15 minutes to get the oils from the herbs to leech out into the brine. The brine will then need to be cooled to less than 40 degrees before allowing it to come in contact with the meat.
All brining should be done in the refrigerator or kept below 40 degrees F for safety.
For this recipe, I did not go crazy with a lot of different flavors, I just wanted to make the chicken more moist with basic water, salt and a little brown sugar. Here's my recipe for the brine:
- 4 cups of cold drinking water
- 1/4 cup of Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
Pour the water into a pitcher then add the salt.
Stir until the salt is dissolved and the water returns to clear. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved.
Pour the brine over the chicken breasts until covered
Cover with lid or plastic wrap and place the bowl in the fridge to keep cold.
I soaked the 6 chicken breasts in a deep glass container for 2 hours flipping them over at the halfway mark to make sure they were evenly submerged.
Preparing the Chicken Breasts
After rinsing the breasts to make sure there was no extra salt on the outside of the meat, I laid the breast down in the brining bowl and covered them with rub, I then flipped them over and coated the other side with rub making sure they were well coated. The rub adds an amazing layer of flavor to the breasts.
I could have used some oil or even mustard to make the rub stick better but since they were wet from the brining, I just added the rub directly to the meat with no further help needed.
Lay 3 strips of bacon butted up against each other on a cutting board or flat surface. Lay one of the breasts across the bacon leaving enough bacon on the left side to wrap it over just a little.
Roll the breast over a couple of times to completely wrap it in the bacon and use toothpicks to hold the bacon in place.
Poke each toothpick through a pepper ring just before sticking it through the bacon to add a little color and flavor to the chicken breast.
At this point, lay the bacon wrapped chicken breasts aside and go get the smoker ready for cooking.
Smoking the Chicken Breasts
Setup the smoker for about 230 degrees for best results. Chicken does not benefit from low and slow cooking in the way that most meats do however, slowing it down does give the chicken more time with the smoke and that is worth the wait to me. The low heat also allows you to use my tasty rub (the recipe) with no chance of it burning.
I opted to use cherry wood (I love cherry and I use it a lot!) on these chicken breasts and I decided early on to keep the smoke going for the entire time the meat was in the smoker. For those of you using a wood smoker, this is the only option but if you are using a charcoal, electric or gas smoker, you do have the option to only keep the smoke going for part of the cook time.
My recommendation is to keep the smoke going for at least half of your estimated cook time.. in the case of these breasts, I am expecting about 3 hours so I would do at least 1.5 to 2 hours of smoke.
Once the smoker is ready, go get the chicken breasts and place them directly on the grate leaving about 1 inch of space between them to allow the smoke to completely surround them.
I am estimating about 3 hours of cook time but that will depend on the thickness of the chicken breasts that you purchased.
Be sure to use a digital probe meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of the breasts and so you can remove them just as soon as they reach their perfect safe temperature of 165 degrees.
About 30 minutes before they are finished, make up a batch of my barbecue sauce if you have the recipe and brush a light coating all over the top of them. This gives the sauce time to glaze over just a little and that just tastes so good!
Serve them hot with a salad, some rice or go homestyle with some mashed potatoes and green beans if you like.
- Brine chicken breasts for 2 hours
- Rinse with cool water to remove any excess salt
- Coat with Jeff's rub (purchase recipe)
- Wrap with 3 pieces of bacon
- Secure bacon with toothpicks/pepper rings
- Smoke @ 230 degrees Ffor about 3 hours
- Add smoke for at least 2 hours
- Brush Jeff's sauce on during last 30 minutes (purchase recipe)
- Chicken is done at 165 degrees F
Note: If you are using a water smoker or any smoker with a water pan be sure to fill the pan with water or other liquid and keep it full while the smoker is in operation. This helps to regulate the temperature of your smoker and will provide some moisture to the air reducing the drying effect on the meat.
Folks.. I never stop amazing myself at how good my rib rub is on various kinds of meat.
Whether it is ribs, brisket, pork shoulder or even something simple like chicken or chops, every time I use my rub and sauce I am blown away by the flavor all over AGAIN!
I always think to myself, "I sure hope everyone can try this.. it is too good to go through life never having experienced this!"
I am not being dramatic.. just try it and you will join the ranks of those who know if I'm lying then I'm dying! This stuff is Fan-flavor-tastic and you need it in a bad-bad way;-)
Here is a few testimonies from other folks who decided to go for it and are glad that they did. Be sure to send my your testimony once you try it and realize that you have just tasted of HEAVEN.
I would like to Thank You for the Rib Rub Recipe, I made this for my family and the results were unanimous, everyone said that the ribs were the BEST they ever tasted, and the meat was very tender and moist. I haven't tried the BBQ sauce recipe yet, but I will in the near future. ~ Jerome
Jeff, You truly are the man. Bought your rib rub and your sakes alive sauce and love them both. Keep up the good work helping people like me learn to cook good BBQ with smoke. ~ Matt
Jeff, I was smoking a Boston butt Saturday night for dinner Sunday and decided to try your bbq sauce. I have to say this is hands down the best sauce I've ever had and I've tried a lot of them. Its very easy to make, inexpensive and taste excellent. I will be using this recipe for a long time. ~ Doug
Just wanted to tell you I finally bought your rub and bb sauce recipe. They were as you said a big hit. Good job. Thanks ~ Marilyn
You deserve the very best and is is completely within your grasp! Only $18.95 and worth every penny. Not only do you get the best rub and sauce recipe available, you are supporting this website and helping to make sure the bills get paid so we can keep on doing what we do to teach thousands and thousands of people across the world the art of smoking meat.
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Until next time.. keep smoking and God Bless.