Smoked chicken breasts are good all on their own, however, if you want to try something different and really, really good, stuff them with a mixture of cream cheese and diced jalapeño wrapped in bacon to hold it all together. I've been making variations of these for ages, but I hear they are now called chicken bombs in some circles. Regardless of what you name them, it's a recipe designed to please everyone!
I always recommend brining chicken and, all poultry as far as that goes, but just know that if you are short on time or decide to make this recipe at the spur of the moment, it will not ruin the recipe if you skip brining it.
Brining adds moisture and flavor to the inside of the meat to help ensure that it ends up as juicy, tender and flavorful as it can be.
To brine the chicken breasts make a solution of:
- 1 quart of cold water
- ¼ cup of coarse kosher salt (Morton's blue box)
- ¼ cup of brown sugar
Stir well until everything is dissolved.
Place the chicken breasts into a zip top bag or other plastic or glass container and pour the brine over the chicken to cover. Place in the fridge for about 2 hours to brine.
Once the brining is complete, remove the chicken from the brine and rinse well under cold water. Pat dry and set aside.
This step can be completed while the chicken is brining (if you opt to brine).
Leave the cream cheese out on the table for about an hour to soften.
Place a block of cream cheese or about 8 oz into a small to medium sized mixing bowl.
Deseed, clean and dice 2-3 jalapeño peppers, depending on how well you like jalapeño and how spicy the jalapeños are.
I usually taste of a little piece to get a feel for the heat level of the peppers (they tend to vary greatly).
Tip: soak the cleaned, deseeded peppers in a bowl of sprite to remove some of the heat. The longer you soak them, the more mild they will become. I usually start with about an hour and go from there.
Note: Another option is to use poblano peppers which contain a lot of flavor but without the heat.
Put the diced peppers into the bowl with the cream cheese and stir to combine.
Brush a little olive oil onto the chicken breasts, then season the top side with Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub).
Add a heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese/jalapeno mixture on top of the rub. Spread the rub over half of the chicken breast.
Fold the chicken over on top of itself. To make it easier to fold, you can make a shallow cut at about the halfway point of the chicken breast widthwise.
Once the chicken is folded coat the entire outside of the chicken breast with a little olive oil and season generously with Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub)
Lay 2 thin slices of bacon across the stuffed chicken breast.
Lift the chicken up and hold it with one hand while you wrap the bacon “artistically” around the chicken.
It can be as “purdy” or haphazard as you like.. no one's judging the wrap ;-)
Place the stuffed chicken on a pan/rack, Weber grill pan, cooling rack or something similar to make it easy to carry them out to the smoker.
Set up your smoker for cooking with indirect heat at around 225- 240°F if possible.
If your smoker has a water pan, it's a good idea to use it.
I used pecan but you can use any smoking wood that you desire and have available.
Once the smoker is ready, place the stuffed chicken directly on the smoker grate and insert a probe from a digital probe meat thermometer (if you have one) so you will know the exact time it is finished. I use the Smoke by ThermoWorks most often because it works so well and because it has excellent range (more than 300 feet).
You can also use a super fast meat thermometer such as the Thermapen.
It should take around 1.5 hours to finish cooking and I recommend applying smoke for at least an hour.
When the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for a couple of minutes before serving.