This barbecue recipe was inspired by what we could find in the grocery store in Santa Claus, Indiana. The Foodway there is not the biggest of stores so we had to sort of let what they had dictate what we would cook while on a mini vacation, taking the kids to Holiday World. If you’ve never been, it’s fantastic for little kids like my 2 and 4 year old boys. In the mean time, try this simple recipe I called Greek Stuffed Chicken Breasts.
6 chicken breasts, bone in
1 quart apple juice
1/4 cup salt
2 tbsp garlic, minced
4 slices of bacon, crumbled and fat reserved
2 tbsp red onion, finely diced
2 tsp garlic, minced (I didn’t double mention, this is used in the stuffing, above is for the brine)
3 oz fresh spinach
5 oz feta cheese crumb
1/2 roma tomato, diced
20 turns of fresh black pepper
Combine the top four ingredients in a plastic bag, making sure that all the salt is dissolved (or in our case, two plastic bags) and refrigerate overnight:
Why brine? Brining does three things – First, it makes meat juicier as liquid from the salt solution goes into the meat. Second, it starts breaking down connective tissues and thus makes meat more tender. And finally, by using apple juice and garlic, that liquid that goes into the meat adds flavor. So to sum up, it makes food more juicy, tender and flavorful. For those who resist brining, there really is no argument against it. I brine everything but beef and fish.
Take the breasts out of the brine, rinse them under cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel.
Now on to the rest of the ingredients:
First, fry four slices of bacon:
Set the bacon aside to cool and put in the onion and garlic into that glorious bacon fat:
After the onion and garlic sweat out their amazing oils, pull them out of the fat and set aside and add the spinach to the remaining fat:
It takes not time for the spinach to wilt down to this:
Now set that aside and dice the tomato:
I did not use the whole tomato shown above. Only about half. And I diced it up, not leaving it in slices like that. Here are all the filling ingredients together:
Mix it all together in a mixing bowl to form the stuffing and then cut pouches in the chicken breasts. Start with the side nearest the breast bone or the straight side:
And cut a slit about an inch and a half deep and wide, depending on the size of the breasts with big breasts allowing for a wider, deeper cut:
Here is a small pouch:
That pouch won’t hold much stuffing, so let’s expand the pouch, but not expand the hole but running the tip of the blade up into the breast without widening the slit on the side:
Do that on both sides of all six breasts and then stuff with the Greek filling:
The spoon will only get you so far. You have to get your fingers in there to really fill the pouch:
This is a messy job:
After filling six breasts, there was this much left over which can be frozen and used later:
All six are stuffed:
If you are wondering about the plates, yes those are Christmas plates. That’s what they had in the condo we rented in Santa Claus Indiana. It didn’t stop there. This was over the sink:
Here’s what we had for towels and pot holders:
And here was my wine glass:
And here I am with my glass, wearing the shirt that sort of inspired this dish as it is somewhat similar to the Chicken Serenbe I did a few weeks ago:
Back to the barbecue recipe…
Now we have to deal with keeping the stuffing inside the chicken as you can see, it’s pretty easy for this stuff to start coming out once it gets hot and starts expanding:
To resolve this, take some skewers and soak them in water for about 30 minutes and then break them in half and use it to keep the slit closed:
Pinch the slit together and run the skewer through both sides:
Now prepare the grill for two zone grilling, with coals on one side and nothing on the other. Here we have a little Char-Broil 500X which is our travel grill. Here it is with the rain that was blowing in from outside screened in porch steaming off:
Here’s a shot to show the size of he grill as well as the storm raging beyond. We bring along a portable table with a board in between to keep it from burning the table:
That little grill is solidly built and works wonderfully for a travel or tailgating grill.
I put the Greek stuffed chicken breasts, skin side down, right over the coals to get a good sear:
I didn’t have enough room to sear them all at once, so I seared three first until I got some nice grill marks:
Another gratuitous grill mark shot:
After all six were seared, I put the Greek stuffed chicken breasts off to the side and dropped in a chunk of peach wood:
After an hour in the smoke around 275 degrees inside the grill, we were told everyone was hungry but the chicken was nice and brown but still not done:
So over on top of the heat, bone side down to accelerate the process:
Be careful when back over the coals. Don’t walk away as there can be flare ups:
I don’t know exactly how long we cooked them over the coals and this will vary from grill to grill, so all I can tell you is to make use of the instant read thermometer and when the chicken gets to 155, pull it from the grill. It will continue to cook while resting to the desired 160. Here it is resting:
And here are the Greek stuffed chicken breasts ready to be plated on those oh, so festive plates:
But what does it look like on the inside?
This barbecue recipe was a wonderful combination of the juicy chicken, gooey cheese, salty bacon, succulent tomato and of course bacon. So much so that I ate two of those huge breasts. Christmas can come in July!
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.
If you would like other barbecue recipes with chicken, click here.
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