Category Archives: Chicken

Smoked Chicken Bacon Cheesy Fajita Wrap

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

A few weeks back, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that SugarFire Smokehouse had placed in Memphis In May for some kind of smoked chicken bacon cheesy sushi dish. I gave it a shot a couple weeks ago on vacation as an appetizer for our fajita night, and we were met with rave reviews.

The wife told me to “take it easy” and “not go crazy” on the BBQ this 4th of July, so I made fresh salsa, grilled a bunch of gourmet sausages, and made the smoked chicken bacon cheesy fajita wrap for my extended family.

Step one is the bacon weave, this time a full pound of Tyson pork bacon (since it was on an insane sale of $2.99 for a 1 lb. pack), hosting at its center a pounded-flat boneless skinless chicken breast (this one being a little over 1o ounces).

Bacon weave and flattened chicken breast

Bacon weave and flattened chicken breast

On that went a washed, seeded, and thinly sliced Anaheim pepper, and a quarter of a sweet yellow (Vidalia) onion, cut into liberal long slices.

Peppers and onions round out a fajita

Peppers and onions round out a fajita

And on top of all THAT went some pulled mozzarella string cheese (two sticks) and a couple slices of pepper jack. I didn’t want too much heat, since a variety of people would be eating this – including a couple people who aren’t down with the hot peppers.

Cheesy does it

Cheesy does it

When wrapping this contraption, I pulled the bacon edges nearest to me into the center of the cheese slices and then rolled the whole thing forward. This may allow the cheese to slide around two sides of the bacon.

I didn’t bother closing up the edges since they went so far beyond the ends of the chicken and other contents.

Wrapped and ready for smoke

Wrapped and ready for smoke

My weave / wrap went onto a Weber 22″ set up for indirect smoking with large hickory chunks.

Time to drink some beers

Time to drink some beers

While this smoked, I drank some amazing beers that I muled back from Florida. That we can buy neither Oskar Blues nor Dogfish Head in St. Louis is ridiculous.

After 45 minutes, I rolled it over. After barely over an hour, it was fully smoked. Importantly, the digital temperature probe read well over 165 in all locations that I tested. It’s ready to rest.

OMG that looks nice

OMG that looks nice

After about 10 minutes of resting, I sliced it at an angle and rang the appetizer bell.

The middle pieces are nice, but the ends are excellent

The middle pieces are nice, but the ends are excellent

Cleaning up the scraps of smoked crispy bacon was hard work. I barely hat time to get pictures.

If you make this, here’s a tip: In addition to getting a center piece, make sure you also get one of the ends. It’s more bacony than cheesy, and it’s gluttonous.

The meats of my labor

The meats of my labor

Everyone who had it loved it, and I offer my sincere thanks to SugarFire for inspiring this slight variation on their idea. Make this – you’ll not regret it.

I hope you had a wonderful and save Independence Day, full of beers, meat, family, and fireworks.

Happy 4th from Webster Groves

Happy 4th from Webster Groves

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Smoked Chicken Wings

Santy Claus brought me a new BBQ cookbook and I need to show up at a neighbor dinner with appetizers.

Important news

Important news

How about some smoked chicken wings? Easy yum yums.

Everybody likes chicken

Everybody likes chicken

I rigged my UDS for smoking at 200 with about 2/3 a coal chimney’s worth of charcoal. Atop that hot mess I added a mix of hickory chunks and cherry chips with the intent to leave it alone for about 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours.

Who wants wingy wingy?

Who wants wingy wingy?

I figured that kiddos might prefer the drumettes while the adults can negotiate the entire three part wing. I let the whole batch smoke for about 1 hour 45 minutes, all 5+ lbs.

Smoke!

Thoroughly smoked

I got some badass color on these wings, with a single batch of charcoal and wood fuel. The UDS, quite well made if I say so, got up to about 200 degrees and didn’t need a lick of attention while I drank some beers and watched bad reruns on tv.

Two sauces were made: Traditional hot wing sauce comprising a stick of butter and oodles of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, and Honey BBQ sauce comprising a bunch of Sweet Baby Ray’s, a ton of honey, another stick of butter, and a couple dashes of Frank’s.

I tried to roll the wings in butter and flour to fry them, but that failed, since I don’t own a cast iron skillet for frying. Instead, I dropped all the smoked wings into about 3/4″ of hot vegetable oil to fry the skin. From the frying pan, each wing went into a warm foil pan of sauce. Drumettes into honey BBQ and the full wings into the Frank’s sauce.

Hot wings!

Hot wings!

Honey BBQ!

Honey BBQ!

Super thrilling to me was seeing my son’s 7 year old friend crushing the honey BBQ wings. They were really good, with a deep smoky taste and a nice tenderness. Those hot wings grow on you, or so I was told. Truly, they were tasty wings with a nice finish and bite.

In the end, the minimal effort resulted in two kinds of tasty wings full of deep smoke flavor, moisture, and tenderness. Each well-incorporated the richness of their respective sauces. Delicious poultry that everyone enjoyed.

Pro Tip Epilogue:

I received a text from someone with far more BBQ wing experience. Smoked chicken wings don’t like to stick to sauce, unless you augment the sauce with some brown sugar. That explains why the honey BBQ sauce coated the wings well, and why the hot sauce slicked off their respective wings. In the future, add brown sugar for stickiness and perhaps some vinegar to keep the heat when doing hot smoked chicken wings.

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BBQ Joint Review: Gobble Stop Smokehouse

If you take one thing away from this BBQ Joint Review, make it this: You absolutely need to go to this place and try a “Turkey Rib” (which is not really a rib, but I’ll explain that later.) Flat out the best turkey I’ve ever had, including all preparation methods. I was blown away.

Third on my hitlist of relatively new BBQ places that need reviewing, per the STL P-D, is Gobble Stop Smokehouse in St. Louis County on Olive, near Fee Fee. An unassuming facade used by a prior (unsuccessful, apparently) smokehouse, in the midst of a Korean-filled strip mall.

Somewhat inconspicuous and inauspicious

Somewhat inconspicuous and inauspicious

I phoned my father to see if he wanted to duck out of work (we’re both self-employed) to hit this poultry-only BBQ spot.

Managers usually have their hair a little better kept.

It’s hot enough for this so-called iced cream

Their menu did not have a hint of cow or pork or goat or non-winged four-legged animal. All bird – very ambitious.

As someone who BBQs often, I can tell you that making poultry well is hard. It’s lean, so it can dry out. The dark and white meats cook distinctly. Seasoning can be tough with the skin and the depth of the meat. Making good turkey or chicken on the BBQ shows skill. I’m still working on it, and it’s a goal for me.

Many options from few choices

Many options from few choices

I saw an article in the Riverfront Times that said that I needed to order the Turkey Tips, so I did. I added an unsweetened tea and side of beans (home made!). Why not toss in an a la carte turkey rib. This is not a rib, though. It’s a part of the turkey breast carved from the scapula of the bird.

Pops went with the pulled chicken sandwich, along with onion rings, iced tea, and his own turkey rib. (Again… not a rib.)

Looks great!

Looks great!

The owner served us and advised us on the lunch options. Based on the RFT recommendation, I was psyched to get the turkey tips. I’m a zealot for thigh meat (both chicken and turkey), so it seemed like a good choice. Basically it’s like pork tips but poultry. He warned me that each sauce-coated nugget was part gristle and part meat.

From a textual point of view, I wasn’t psyched about sticking a gristle-filled nugget into my mouth to chew off the tasty bits, so I tackled these one at a time with a fork and knife. One of my gripes about this place is the plastic silverware. I get it, as a former professional dishwasher, that the cutlery is nice and disposable, but the turkey tips were hard to navigate with flimsy plastic forks and knives.

With some effort, though, each nugget produced at least a bite or two of smoky, hyper-tender bird. The sauce was thick, sticky, spicy and incredibly wonderful. The meat was juicy and skillfully made. I really enjoyed it, despite the extra work. In the future, I probably pass on this one, given all the work, but I’ve never had anything quite like this before. Tasty tasty turkey.

The best choice I made, though, was getting a turkey rib. What an amazing, succulent, tender, smoky, sticky piece of turkey meat. I was shocked. Literally, though this meat had bite, but fell cleanly off the bone. Solid smoke lines, great tenderness, solid sauce, excellent texture. I was blown away by the turkey ribs, which is a low calorie low cholesterol way to down BBQ and still feel like you’re crushing ribs. A thin slab of bone was all that remained.

This looks big, but it's flat

This looks big, but it’s flat

It’s a genius move, but you still have to do it perfectly. These guys did just that. The sauce was such an awesome pairing with the tender smoked meat. Really a surprising entree. My father ordered one a la carte as well and he decided, based solely on that sample, to come back six hours later for takeout dinner for him and my mother. She told me how much she liked it, too – no shock to me.

Dad’s lunch was also wonderful. He grabbed the pulled chicken sandwich, with a side of onion rings.

Sorry for the blur

Sorry for the blur

Dad’s chicken was really good. It seemed like the chicken was more chunked pieces than shreds. Moist, tender. Hard to beat BBQ good enough to be served without any sauce (served on the side). There was a taste in the seasoning that I was struggling to pick up on… I swear it was some kind of Doritos nacho-y seasoning on the chicken. Really nice chicken, a great lunch.

Onion rings… pedestrian. Thick breading, crispy coating, but probably came from a bag. Not bad but unremarkable.

Beans were great. I got a nice pepper and cumin flavor, with a serious peppery spice aftertaste. Nice thick sauce and tender beans. Great appearance with good red pepper bits throughout. Excellent, particularly if they cooked them without any pork or beef. Getting a nice hearty flavor with no pork grease can be a trick. I’m very curious how these were made.

The place was clean and quaint, and the owner was personable and polite. What’s not to love about Gobble Stop. I tried to buy a cookie after our late lunch… he gave me a lemon sugar cookie on the house. Great cookie. Moist, without any superfluous powdered or crystallized sugar on it.

I 100% guarantee that I’m returning to Gobble Stop Smokehouse. Epic meat. Wonderful service and atmosphere. You don’t always need to eat pig or cow to get top notch BBQ, and Gobble Stop is proof.

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BBQ Joint Follow Up: PM BBQ

When you have solid BBQ, a return trip is in order. PM BBQ boasted championship chicken, but I got the brisket last time. I want that chicken.

1/2 chicken and all the fixin's

1/2 chicken and all the fixin’s

What great chicken! Half a bird, well smoked. The skin was barely crispy and peeled back easily, revealing uber-moist and succulent meat. It was well-flavored and the smoke came through wonderfully. My dad got the same thing and we didn’t put a drop of BBQ sauce on it. It was that good.

I’ve smoked chicken before with success. It usually turns out really good and everyone likes it, but mine is not this good. The white meat and the dark were evenly moist and tender, and that includes the wings. Every time I cook a chicken on the Weber, the wings get dry. I really don’t know how they did such a great job – this chicken shows great skill.

I was told by someone in the know that I made the mistake last time of not getting the sweet corn spoonbread side. It was good, but a little dense. The beans were much better. The slaw was a basic light cream slaw – nothing amazing but not bad. It pairs well with chicken.

We also split the small order (that’s a small? does the large come in a bucket?!) of fried pickle chips. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s a batter I’ve definitely had before. They were a good treat to split.

The chicken is worth a return trip, as is the brisket. PM BBQ is a solid BBQ Joint option.

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Beer Can Chicken

When I told my two older kids (ages 6 and 4) that I was going to make chicken on the BBQ by sticking a PBR up a chicken’s butt, they thought one of two things: “Dad is lying” or “That is awesome”. Either way, they were super-psyched to see me finally put one of my BBQ-themed Fathers’ Day gifts to good use.

Such a simple design

I went with a super simple rub of brown sugar, paprika, garlic salt, seasoned salt, sage, rosemary, and cayenne pepper.

Sweet, savory, and spicy

I cracked open one of my Schlafly Pumpkin Ales to help me along. It’s like drinking a pumpkin pie, if the baker had a very heavy hand with the pumpkin pie spice and he also made it high alcohol. Yet another fancy sippin’ beer from Schlafly.

Download the Schlafly beer app

I discarded the neck and guts, then coated the chicken in and out with the rub. Before the bad beer anal probe, I tossed in some garlic cloves that could sautee and add a little extra flavor.

Ready for chicken

On went Mrs. Cluck.

Don’t mind this. This is doctor’s orders.

And then promptly onto the BBQ pit over semi-direct heat, breast side to the coals.

Chicken and corn… simple yet satisfying

After 30 minutes, I had charred the hell out of the breast skin. No matter, since I don’t eat the skin. Perhaps a more controlled burn next time. I rotated 180 degrees and continued.

Beer can juices steaming nicely

Why let a healthy corn and chicken meal go unchecked? I made up some Brussels sprouts on the stove top… quartered and sauteed with a pound of chopped bacon, half stick of butter, and half a diced onion of course. It cooks in less than an hour and makes an amazing side dish.

An exceptionally unhealthy veggie

Finally, the chicken was ready to come off the grill for service after about an hour and 15 minutes or so, having been verified with a few thermometer readings in the breast meat.

PBR suppository – not FDA approved

This is as simple as it gets. You don’t really even need a chicken can rack. You can just jam the can up there and make a tripod with the chicken legs and the can, but I prefer the stability.

What a wonderful dinner, another hit with the kids. It was super moist throughout, and the meat was tender and flavorful. Hopefully they don’t think sticking beer cans up butts is acceptable in any other animal application.

Speaking of other animals, I’m sorry to report that Samantha moved on to Doggie Heaven in mid-June, way ahead of her time. It was a very sad time for us, something I didn’t really feel like mourning publicly when it happened. She could no longer negotiate steps, puked after she ate, couldn’t squat to pee, etc. and was just miserable. She was the only dog I ever had and the best dog I’ve ever known.

It took two months, but the kids finally broke my resolve and we picked another puppy up from the pound. Meet the newest Simpson, Buddy the Dog.

Woof

Buddy isn’t just doing a Jeffrey Leonard impression for the photo. He really does always have one ear perked up and the other folded down. One Labrador ear and one Shepherd ear… perfect for a mutt born to a stray mom who we found at the Humane Society. We are trying to hold off on people food (as in BBQ scraps) for as long as possible. The kids seem to have taken a shine to him, though.

Someone loves their new puppy

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Grilled Chicken With Escabeche

Rick Bayless is a favorite TV chef in the Simpson house. If we can ever get back to Chicago, a visit to Frontera will be on the agenda. In lieu of a road trip, why not try out a BBQ recipe inspired by Chef Bayless?

Besides, having just entered as a competitor in the Backyard BBQ Bash, I need to practice grilling chicken. Chicken thighs are a resilient, succulent piece of chicken. That in mind, Chef Bayless has a grilled chicken recipe on his website.

I started with a couple green chilies from my garden, a bulb’s worth of unpeeled garlic cloves, and some whole peppercorns all in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.

Many great things start with garlic

Once toasted, I peeled and smooshed up the garlic, along with the peppercorns and chilies to make a lumpy paste for the chicken thighs.

Garlic & pepper paste

In the meantime, following Chef Bayless’ recipe for the escabeche sauce, I toasted three large Anaheim peppers , peeled them, and then cooked them in a non-stick skilled with half a chopped white onion, chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, cilantro, salt and pepper.

Nearly escabeche

The only omission from his recipe was the pickled red onions, since I wanted more of a salsa verde flavor with the acidity of the vinegar without the heavy saltiness of the pickled onions. It simmered for a while, and I would thin it out lightly with some broth and vinegar as it thickened.

According to the super-accurate Wikipedia website, Mexican-style Escabeche is an acidic and peppery presentation of meat. It sounds like it can be a loosely-defined term that covers many types of sauces, particularly with respect to the regional influence.

In parallel to this entire adventure, I decided to crack open my home brew kit and make some brown ale. After cooking it all down, I had to wait for the wort to chill enough for the yeast. Combined with the garlic, peppers, onions, etc., the brewing beer aromas made for a very delightful scent throughout the house.

Wort, pre-yeast… beer in a few weeks

I put about two thirds of the paste onto the chicken thighs, with the other third going into the escabeche sauce.

Chicken thighs

Each went on the grill over semi-direct heat, skin and paste side up.

Twenty minutes later or so, I flipped the chicken to skin side down.

Nearly complete!

Plating is simple. The sauce is thick and glorious.

Grilled chicken with escabeche, plated

The pepper and onion sauce was wonderful. The tartness and acidity of the vinegar cut the spice from the peppers and peppercorns, while the texture of the onions and peppers was reminiscent of a chunky yet smooth verde salsa. This sauce alone would work on tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, etc.

You might think that chicken with a garlic paste on it would be overwhelming, but it provided a mellow, savory flavor. (I don’t eat chicken skin anyway.) It was moist and delicious, and even my kids ate it.

Epilogue: The next day we made quesadillas with the pepper sauce and pulled chicken, along with Mexican cheese blend, a sprinkle of Parmesan, and a wheat tortilla. After 15 minutes in the oven… Exquisite.

Chicken quesadilla with verde sauce

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2012 Schlafly World Pork Steak Championships

One of the best days of the year for an amateur St. Louis BBQer was yesterday at the Pavilion in Chesterfield’s Central Park: the Annual Schlafly World Pork Steak Championships. I have been practicing for a few weeks on an entree and my pork steaks, and my partner, Mike, has been working on an appetizer. We’ve done this together for four years now and it’s always a blast, despite the fact that we always get too drunk and finish near last.

We got the tent set up around 8:30 or so. Say hello to everyone, Mike! Be sure to look as silly as possible.

Hi, everybody!

Easily one of the coolest CPAs I know…

Mike brought his fancy Weber 22.5″ and I brought the Big Blue smoker.

Where the magic happens

Appetizer due at 2:00pm, entree due at 2:30pm, and pork steaks due at 3:00pm.

Planned Menu:

Appetizer – Balsamic marinaded chicken kebabs, paired with a porter beer

Entree – Smoked steelhead trout BLT paninis, paired with an IPA

Pork Steaks – Smoked for about 2 hours at 200 degrees after a dredging in a mustard/beer/brown sugar paste, followed by a brief sear on each side

Competitor Meeting at 9:30am:

No foreign objects allowed, as in no kebab skewers. Also, you can garnish as much as you want, contrary to what the rules said. Also, beer sales are at 12:00 noon, and apparently you could have brought your own package beer after all. Mike was totally bent out of shape by all of this.

Appetizer: (Sorry, but I didn’t get any photos of this)

With some input from my wife, Mike changed things on the fly to lettuce wraps with the chicken and some grilled veggies. He also changed the beer pairing from a dark beer to a summer lager.

Mike toasted peanuts in a foil pouch, grilled some bok choy (Chinese cabbage) and bell peppers, and grilled his chicken as usual. It was all chopped up and tossed in some large leaf lettuce with peanut sauce and dry asian slaw.

Frankly, the appetizer was delicious. We all liked it, but apparently the judges didn’t find it top ten worthy. It was probably Mike’s best effort to date. Good work.

Entree:

I generally followed the recipe from a few practice sessions ago when we first tried the smoked steelhead trout BLT paninis. Both huge filets were generously covered on the non-skin side with Lawry’s seasoned salt and coarse black pepper.

Simply seasoned fish

Due to some grill space issues, one of the cedar planks had to be put on the Weber 22″ over indirect heat and the other had to go on the smoker where the pork steaks (discussed later) were already in the midst of a hickory wood smoke.

Smoked steelhead trout, skin ready to come off

As entree assembly time approached, only the fish on the smoker grate was ready to go. The one on the Weber was underdone. This would turn out to be a critical piece of fortune.

After about 30-40 minutes of cooking, the skin peeled right off in one piece and the fish was ready for a little more cooking.

Skinned fish filet

The BLTs were assembled with the pre-cooked thick-cut maple bacon, some real mayonnaise, arugula, and vine ripened tomatoes, all on white ciabatta bread rolls.

Set up and ready for fish

After putting generous, massive pieces of fish on each sandwich, I put the assembled sandwiches on the smoker and used a paver brick wrapped in foil as a panini press.

While the sandwiches finished, we tried the remaining filet. Much to our surprise, the flavor was much richer and buttery than it had been in the past. Something about the two wood smoking and the drum smoker as opposed to the Weber improved the fish dramatically.

Then, after each side of the sandwich got a pressing, we pulled them and cut each in half. Six individual servings were required.

Paninied sandwiches

They looked good. They tasted amazing. I felt pretty good about my chances. If nothing else, I made something delicious and was getting excited to make some sandwiches for the group once the other filet finished on the Weber.

I needed to pair it with a beer. What better to go with something sweet and smoky and full of fish than an IPA? I selected the Goose Island IPA as my pairing.

BLT w/ Fish

I turned it in and was pleased… despite the pork steak fiasco. Read on.

Pork Steaks:

The plan was to replicate my prior successes at making pork steaks by dredging them through some paste/mud of mustard, beer, brown sugar, pepper, spice, paprika, etc.

Dredge paste ready to go

Each of the pork steaks, and the only gave us three this year, was liberally coated.

Pork steaks in their spicy mud bath

Rubber gloves for food safety. After all, the county health inspector is around.

Safety first. Pork hands are not good.

The witches’ brew of hickory smoke billowed from Big Blue. The time for pork steaks is at hand.

Catastrophe coming…

The pork steaks met the smoke about 2 hours before turn in time. We were busy getting the appetizer and entree prepared and they are a low-maintenance dish. Little did I realize that the temperature was climbing, rapidly and dangerously.

Big Blue usually sits at 200 degrees, barely going over 225. Today, however, it rose to 300 then 350. When I finally realized it was at 350, I knew I was screwed.

Oh crap

In the part trial runs, these things were ready for a flip and continued smoke at an hour. After two hours, they were super tender, hyper-moist, and very flavorful. My plan was to give them a brief sear to get some BBQish crispiness on the outside, at about 2 minutes per side or less, after the smoking was over. No point now.

What a nightmare. I was quite dejected, a feeling that passed later for reasons you will read. Eventually, as explained below, I figured out why this happened. Basically this was the low part of the day.

I cut six slices from the least awful pork steak and turned them in with zero expectations of success. The other two were inedible. Time for a shitload of beers and some contemplation how this freak accident happened.

Awards Ceremony:

Whilst we waited for them to announce the awards, we hit the craft beer tent pretty hard.

Beer tent. What a nice way to spend a 95 degree day.

Mike caught up on his summer reading.

Scandalous! Fabulous! OMFG S&M!

They announced the appetizer winners without mentioning us. Damned shame, but better luck next year.

As a quick aside, my expectations were low. While we were prepping our pork steaks, the guy next to us came over and let us try some of his Tri-Tip that he turned in as his entree. Holy MFing Shit, it was amazing. Juicy, flavorful, perfectly cooked. If this is what I am up against, then I’m screwed.

Much to my pleasant surprise, I was announced as the Third Place winner in the entree category!

Third Place is better than nothing!

It was my first BBQ trophy that didn’t involve something that’s apparently unethical, like parboiling pork ribs.

Obviously we were thrilled!

Hooray

Oh, and I didn’t place in the pork steaks. They sucked. I knew they sucked when I made them and turned them in. I seriously messed up, as explained below. Whatever. I was happy to win something for the entree.

Epilogue:

Not to ruin the story, but I was already dead in the water with respect to the pork steaks and I didn’t know it, before ever showing up that morning.

The night before the competition, I thoroughly cleaned out Big Blue. For weeks, I had been practicing with a lining of BBQ drippings, ash, coal, etc. all cemented to the bottom and lower walls of the smoker. It had been performing consistently and in a manner that I could control and predict. I don’t know why I cleaned it out; I just did.

During the competition, the temperature spiked uncontrollably a few times. It went up to 350 out of nowhere and stayed hot. Even after dousing the fire and closing the baffles, it jumped to 400. Two of the three pork steaks dried out and the third was a mediocre shadow of my previous practice successes. A total fiasco that left me puzzled until I had a eureka moment in the middle of the night last night. Dammit. Live and learn.

Still, a great time and a good finish.

Mike was annoyed about the change in the package liquor rules. According to the original entry form, we would be disqualified if we had outside package beer or liquor. Tons of people had outside package beer and liquor, but not us. I mentioned to Mike that every prior year we had gotten blasted and someone had burnt themselves (usually Mike) and we had turned in sub-par food. This year we stayed bright, drank tons of water, and turned in some wonderful food. He begrudgingly agreed.

Now would be a good time for a beer. This one was awesome:

Matilda by Goose Island, my celebratory beer (among many)

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Venison Cornbread Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I was blessed with a pound of venison in a camouflage bag. Many thanks to my uncle and aunt, Robert and Candace Rice.

Some meat comes in camo bags

This is rural Missouri deer meat, probably Bambi’s mother. Just thinking about that orphaned baby deer gets my mouth watering.

I decided to make a cornbread stuffing with the venison, then stuff some chicken breasts with it and wrap the whole thing in bacon. Sounds good, right?

First, I got some Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing from the store. I put a tablespoon of butter in a medium sauce pan with three chopped garlic pieces and a quarter of a white onion for about five minutes. I added about 1 1/2 cup of the dry stuffing and 3/4 cup water. After mixing it up, I put in about three ounces of chopped Shiitake mushrooms.

Pre-venison stuffing

After making the stuffing, I mixed in the pound of ground venison. It’s messy work. Use your bare hands.

Finger licking good! (Seriously, though, don't lick your fingers.)

I am using three huge boneless chicken breasts, each pounded flat with a robust soup ladle while resting between some plastic wrap. Pound that chicken like it owes you money.

Time to beat your meat! What? What do you think I was talking about?

Each flattened chicken breast sat on a few strips of bacon, followed by about 1/3 of the venison stuffing.

One meat wrapped in another wrapped in another.

Wrap it up snugly. I am prepping in advance of BBQing, so I covered them in plastic wrap for some time in the fridge.

Ironic that they about the size and shape of your heart, considering how super awesome all that bacon is for your heart.

These things are huge, so they will take some time to grill. Low and slow. With the pork and poultry, make sure your meat thermometer is handy. Get ’em on the grill for some long, indirect heat. I am adding hickory smoke.

As you can see, these things are massive.

About 30-40 minutes into the grilling, each was rotated 180 degrees, keeping them on indirect heat. More wood chunks were added.

Almost ready for the platter

A total of 90 minutes was required to get the thickest part of the entree up to 160 degrees. This will obviously vary, depending on the size and conditions of your grill.

As huge as these are, I would say that half of one is a serving. I had some salad, asparagus, and two spare ribs on my plate with a half of a stuffed breast and was nearly uncomfortably full.

Looks good; Smells good

I could really taste the Shiitake mushroom, though a few guests did not pick up on them. The bacon does not add much flavor to the dish – it really does a great job, though, of holding everything together and keeping moisture locked in. You will get a lot of flavorful chicken with hearty bites of stuffing and venison.

This turned out really well, and there’s plenty of leftovers for lunch. I paired it with a Schlafly Dry-Hopped APA from a mix pack.

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