Friday, October 1, 2010

Smoky Mountain Chicken


"Two men allegedly "got to drinking" and ended up running naked through the Tiger Haven sanctuary after they were fired from their jobs there" - Knoxville News Sentinel 9/29/10

Only in East Tennessee. I love this region but damn we have our share of yahoos. At least they are entertaining. But fortunately, there are also a lot of great things about living in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

One of them is Smoky Mountain Chicken sandwich, an item commonly found on menus around the area. It's actually rather simple - a hickory grilled chicken breast topped with some type of cheddar cheese, bacon, and a sweet & smokey bbq sauce. Simple like a damn good burger.

Smoky Mountain Chicken Sandwich

2 ea chicken breast, boneless, skinless, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
2 tsp poultry seasoning (I used Perfect Poultry Rub but even salt and pepper works)
4 slices bacon, cooked
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup BBQ sauce

I think the key to getting this one right is the "hickory grilled" part, because the spirit of this sandwich to me is something you could cook on a campfire in the Smoky Mountains. So tonight I cooked on my Fatboyz Fire Pit.

I started a batch of split hickory in my charcoal starter....

And then dumped the hickory into the fire pit to get a good base of coals.

Earlier, I baked a batch of bacon on my Big Green Egg until it was crisp.

Seasoned both side of the breasts with the rub and then cook them over the hickory coals, flipping every 5 minutes until done. This is the tricky part because I was cooking over an open pit. On the Big Green Egg, I would have had more control and would have known exactly how long to cook them. But fire pits aren't a controlled environment like the Egg or a closed grill so wind, air temp and things like that affect the cooking times. Tonight it took about 30 minutes to get them to 160f internal.

Once almost done, top each with two pieces of bacon and some cheddar cheese. I just used a plain sharp cheddar tonight but any cheddar will do. Some places use monterey jack. Cook until the cheese melts.

To make it melt quicker, invert a 1/2 steam pan, baking sheet or foil tent over the chicken.

Top with a sweet and slightly smoky barbecue sauce. What better one to use on a Smoky Mountain chicken sandwich than Smoky Mountain Smokers bbq sauce made by Joe and Voncile Amore over in Sevierville?

Smoky Mountain Smokers is an award winning competitive bbq team and just the nicest people you could meet. I like this sauce because it boasts a range of flavors, not just sweet and ketchup base like many sauces do. Good enough to buy by the gallon.

Typically, I would serve this with a side of slaw and fries, but tonight dinner was just a quickie after Trevor's football practice so I just served them with chips.

So it's a slow night....anyone want to "get to drinking" and run naked through a tiger farm?