Hot smoked chicken breasts make any meal exciting! Salads, sandwiches, soups, pasta dishes — you name it! — will benefit if you add some smoked lean chicken. But cooking skinless and boneless chicken breasts is easy and challenging at the same time. To make them tender and juicy we need to protect their moisture and to make them uniformly thick. Usually, a combination of pounding and brining is a solution. In this recipe, we make a pocket to stuff it with moist and/or fatty ingredients instead of pounding. As a bonus, different stuffings add interesting flavors to otherwise mild-tasting chicken.
Green chile peppers are known for their tough skin. They are usually charred to peeled it away. Seeds and membranes should also be removed. Only then peppers are ready for using them in final dishes. Unfortunately, charred peppers often loose their shape and wholeness and can’t be used for stuffing with raw ingredients. In Nuevo Tex-Mex cookbook, David Garrido and Robb Walsh mention another traditional way to prep chili peppers for stuffing — softening them in hot water for 20 minutes. Some cooks go even further by adding some piloncillo (raw cane sugar), apple cider vinegar, and salt to make a hot brine for peppers. Precooking peppers in salty and acidic water helps to preserve color, lowers heat level, and makes it easier to clean seeds and membranes.
In Hatch cooking classes, we stuffed Hatch peppers with carnitas and roasted them to serve with green Mexican rice. Stuffing them with lean Angus beef and hot smoking with hickory chips seamed the next obvious step. Delicious!