Skinless Chicken Breasts
- Brine the chicken
breasts for 30-60 minutes to add flavor and prevent dry meat.
- Use 1 chimney of fully lit Kingsford charcoal briquettes.
- Place the foil-lined
water pan in the cooker, but leave it empty.
- Smoke the chicken at
250-275°F for 1 hour to an internal temperature of 160-165°F.
- Baste with sauce
during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.
- Smoke chicken breasts
in bulk and freeze leftovers for use later.
If you think cooking
whole chicken is easy using the Weber Smokey Mountain
Cooker, wait until you try boneless, skinless chicken breasts. There's
hardly any prep at all, they cook quickly, they taste great, and they're
good for you. How can you beat that?
Here are some photos I
took on September 13, 2002 when I cooked boneless, skinless chicken
breasts on the
always...click on any of the pictures to
view a larger image.
Brining The Chicken
cool about smoking chicken breasts is you can buy them in bulk at the
wholesale warehouse store (cheap), spend virtually no time prepping
them (lazy), cook up a whole mess of them (save time), and
freeze the leftovers for use later in delicious sandwiches, salads,
and quesadillas (convenient). Of course, they also taste good (yum)
and are heart-smart (healthy).
Start with a bulk
pack of boneless, skinless breasts containing about 12 pieces.
Rinse each piece and pat dry with paper towels.
At this point, either
apply your favorite rub and cook the chicken as-is, or take the
additional step of brining some or all of the pieces. The brining process adds flavor to the meat
and keeps the meat moist, even if
I brined 6 pieces for
1 hour using the recipe below; the other 6 pieces were not brined.
quart cool water
1/2 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
in a non-reactive container until dissolved. Makes 1 quart of
brining solution. Substitute 1/4 cup + 2 TBSP Morton Kosher Salt
or 1/4 cup table salt for Diamond Crystal.
Make 1 quart of brine for each pound of meat. For example, a
dozen chicken breasts weighing a total of 5 pounds requires 5 quarts of brine. Soak the chicken pieces for 30-60 minutes in
the solution, then pat dry.
After brining, pat
each piece dry with paper towels and apply your favorite rub.
Remember, the brine has seasoned the meat already, so go easy on that
I divided the breasts
into 3 groups and applied a different rub to each group--some hot, some
not--then let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes while firing up the cooker.
Light a full chimney
of Kingsford charcoal briquettes and spread them evenly over the
charcoal grate when they're good and hot. Place three small chunks of
dry smoke wood on the hot coals and assemble the cooker. I used 2
small chunks of apple and 1 small chunk of hickory.
Put the foil-lined water pan in place, but
leave it empty.
Set the top vent
and the 3 bottom vents wide open to begin with, then adjust as
necessary after the meat is in the cooker.
Cook the chicken
breasts with the smooth presentation side facing up for 1 hour at
250-275°F until they reach an internal temp of 160-165°F.
temperature will drop when the meat goes into the cooker, so just keep
an eye on the temp as it begins to rise and adjust the bottom vents as
needed to keep the cooker in the 250-275°F zone--a little higher
or lower won't hurt anything.
I did not turn the chicken during cooking
(you can if you like) and I basted half of the pieces with a tomato-based barbecue sauce at the
50 minute mark.
Here's the finished
product as it looked coming off the cooker. The basted breasts looked
more attractive, but the unsauced ones were destined for use in salads
and other dishes in which barbecue sauce would not be appropriate.
The brined pieces
were especially moist and tender, and the normally bland meat was
flavorful throughout. The pieces that weren't brined were pretty
moist, too, but didn't have the same flavor. Try this sometime and see
if you can taste the difference side-by-side.
If you click on this
picture and wonder what those toothpicks are doing in some of the
breasts, that's just my way of keeping track of which pieces were
brined and which rubs were applied to the various pieces.
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