Thursday, November 15, 2012

Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Sweet Bacon

This is the second of three posts about my weekend at the Kingsford Invitational.  Or maybe 4 posts.  I dunno.  I am making up the rules as I go a long.

We didn't have this recipe served at the event but it was in the recipe packet provided by Kingsford.  So I fired up my Weber Smokey Joe and made this as written.

Brined Chicken Breast Sandwich with Grilled Sweet Bacon

by reprinted with permission from Kingsford University
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 23 minutes

Ingredients (6 sandwiches)
    You'll Need
    • 6 boneless chicken breasts
    • 9 slices thick cut bacon
    • 6 provolone cheese slices
    • 6 Kaiser rolls
    • 3 Tbsp butter
    • 2 tomatoes, sliced
    • 1 onion, sliced
    • 6 lettuce leaves
    Chicken Brine
    • 1/4 cup salt
    • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
    • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp black pepper
    • 1 quart warm water
    Chicken Glaze
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup apple juice
    • 1/4 cup white vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp black cherry juice
    • 1/2 cup maple syrup
    • 3 Tbsp red pepper jelly
    • 3/4 cup KC Masterpiece™ Barbecue sauce
    • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    Bacon Rub
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • 1/8 tsp salt
    • 1/8 tsp cumin
    • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    1. Create chicken brine by combining salt, granulated sugar, brown sugar, garlic powder and black pepper in a Glad™ Food Storage Zipper Gallon bag.Pour 1 quart warm water into the bag, seal and shake the bag until the sugar dissolves. Refrigerate until the liquid cools, then place the chicken breasts into the plastic bag and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
    2. While the chicken brines, create the chicken glaze by combining the sugar, apple juice, white vinegar, black cherry juice, maple syrup, sugar, KC Masterpiece™ Barbecue Sauce, Worcestershire sauce and salt in a sauce pan and simmer for 15 minutes.
    3. Preheat the grill using Kingsford™ charcoal until the internal temperature reaches 400 degrees F.
    4. While the grill preheats, mix the bacon rub ingredients in a small bowl and season the bacon liberally. Place the bacon over direct heat and cook for 1 minute on each side or until the bacon is charred and brown. Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and cook over direct heat for 3 minutes on each side. Paint both sides of the chicken with the sauce mixture and place back on the grill for 1 minute on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 160F degrees. Place a slice of provolone on each chicken breast for the last minute of cooking.
    5. Lightly butter the face of the Kaiser rolls and place them over direct heat with the grill lid open. Cook for 30 seconds or until the face is light brown and toasted. Place chicken and bacon on the bun, then add tomato, onion, and lettuce as well as your favorite condiments.
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    The bacon started off okay but once the fat started rendering, flames erupted and the sugar laden rub tended to burn.  Unless you are very adept at grilling, you might want to opt for cooking the bacon via indirect heat or stove top.

    Given the short cooking times, I placed each breast in a Glad™ Ziptop bag and used a meat mallet to flatten them to 1/2" thickness for even cooking.

    I like using Sargento's new "ultra thin" slices of cheese the past month or so.  It melts so easily on the grill. 

    See how thin that cheese is melted onto the breast?

    General thoughts:
    • Great chicken sandwich.  We had it two nights in a row.  I used boneless, skinless thighs the next night - just as good.
    • If you are in a hurry, I think you could forgo the brine and use a general purpose BBQ rub on the chicken.  But brining is better when possible.
    • The chicken glaze received high marks from my family.  It is definitely on the sweet end of sauces.  This glaze is going into frequent rotation for chicken and even for pulled pork (for the heathen that don't realize vinegar sauce is the best sauce for pulled pork).
    • SUPER MAYO - The recipe says use condiments you like.  Don't.  Mix half mayo and half chicken glaze together for a GREAT sandwich spread.  Alexis thought it was honey mustard when I had her taste it.

    2012 Kingsford Invitational
    Saturday started off wonderfully.  I woke up a few hours early so I headed down for some juice thinking I'd be the only one up.  I ended up getting to spend about an hour with Tuffy Stone, Meathead, Greg Rempe, and Robyn Medlin-Lindars just talking about barbecue, judging, stuff in general, and I even got a tip for a great butcher in Nashville from Tuffy.   With all of the events scheduled, it was the impromptu interactions like this that were my favorite parts of the weekend.

    The first event was a discussion with the panel of judges.  Just like the elite field of competitors, these judges are BBQ royalty themselves.  From left to right:

    • Tuffy Stone - owner of A Sharper Palate, owner of Cool Smoke BBQ restaurants, competitive smoker, BBQ Pitmasters Season I (competitor), BBQ Pitmasters Season III (judge)
    • Amy Mills-Tunnicliffe - co-author of Peace, Love, and Barbecue, judge for Food Network's Best In Smoke, BBQ consultant for OnCue, and BBQ Heiress of 17th Street Bar and Grill.  Oh yeah, she's also the daughter of BBQ phenom Mike Mills.
    • Chris Lilly - VP Big Bob Gibson BBQ, author of Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book, 12 time world champion pitmaster, TV personality, Kingsford Spokesman, and the list goes on.

    • Meathead - "Barbecue Whisperer", certified judge at top competitions, syndicated journalist, and just about one of the most interesting BBQ dudes I have the pleasure of knowing.  He also runs the #1 trafficked BBQ website in the world  
    • Ardie Davis aka Remus Powers - easily the most well known BBQ judge on the circuit, Ardie is also an author of 5 bbq books, writes for National BBQ News, and founded a portion of the American Royal.
    • Harry Soo - Pitmaster of Slap Yo Daddy BBQ, BBQ Pitmasters Season I (competitior), California Team of the Year, 27 Grand Championships and 80+ First Places.  What I like most about Harry besides his humor and enthusiasm is that he kicks all that BBQ butt using Weber Smokey Mountain Smokers - the same kind that is found in back yards across the country.  No $20,000 rigs for him.  
    • Brad Orrison - Co-founder of The Shed, competitor on Best In Smoke, award winning competitive smoker, and funniest guy of the weekend.  He had me in tears when the bus got lost on a dirt road Friday night.  Plus he surfs - he and I talked about some of the spots he and I have both surfed in Florida. 

    The judges discussed their thoughts on
    • The level of difficulty for qualifying for this event
    • The judging process used and why it is more fair than other judging situations
      • blind judging - don't know who's entry they are trying
      • comparative - side by side judging of entries
      • One table, same judges - (Some contests have 500+ teams and perhaps 100 judging tables so their can be inconsistency between tables)
      • no regional bbq prejudice on the judges part 
    • Their BBQ preferences and beliefs
    • A few ultra secret tips like using Tang for your competition style chicken.  I didn't tell you HOW to use it so it is still a secret ;)  
    Next we had a tour of the Belle, MO Kingsford Charcoal plant, one of 7 such plants across the country.  The plants are located based on the availability of local hardwoods.

    I was impressed by a two key things that other folks may not have noticed.
    • Safety - They have not had a work related injury in over 2 years.  That might not seem like a big deal to you but my former career and college degree are related to occupational safety and health.  For a plant of this type and size to take safety seriously as they noticeably do, is no accident.
    • Environmental Stewardship - The plant has almost no emissions.  They capture their emissions for reuse in their dryers.  I saw engineering controls to minimize any stormwater run off. They have a high level of automation and monitoring to maximize efficiency.
    The reason those two things impressed me so much is that they are no accident.  It is hard and cost money to do that.  It takes top down commitment and an organization that is focused not only on profits but also on doing the right thing. [Stepping off my soapbox now]

    They go through this much hardwood (oak, hickory, etc) pieces every 3 months.  I swear he said 50 trucks a day.

    Brad Orrison's straw hat goes EVERYWHERE with him...even when wearing a hard hat ;)

    After the wood is ground, charred, and stamped into briquettes, it is still soft and crush-able by hand.

    Hardened after a while in the dryers.

    The packing line made me think of that I Love Lucy episode on the candy line.

    He said they are a little low on volume right now...I can imagine what it looks like when gearing up for the summer!

    I tried talking them into a complimentary still hasn't arrived.
    It takes about 6-8 hours from start to finish to make the briquettes that end up on your grill. 

    It was an interesting tour and when I poured my Kingsford into the grill for the first time after the trip, I picked up a piece and thought about how it had gotten there.  

    Okay enough for now.  I'll talk about the final competition with my next post.