Reviewing Maple Planks - Bacon Slather Chicken

I sort of did things backwards in terms of plank grilling. The cedar wraps I tried first seemed more exotic than plain, old, plank grilling (as if). And they also seem like they should be more complicated.

But it turns out pepper jack stuffed chicken, with chipotle bacon slather, is actually quite a bit more complicated than it sounds.

First of all, a secret about chicken. If you really cannot risk having tough chicken, (like when you buy all sorts of special ingredients and so that chicken gosh-darn-better turn out moist). Marinate it in buttermilk. I learned it from Giada on the cooking network years ago and it has never failed me. Something about the buttermilk breaking down the fibers in the chicken and making it super tender and flavorful...I don't know. Ask Alton Brown. All I know, is when you need to make sure your chicken cooperates...soak it in buttermilk.

Also, see that little can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce? For some reason I was under the impression they were some gourmet, expensive commodity. Turns out they cost less than a buck and will last you forever (unless you're a sucker for melting your insides). I groan when I think of all the recipes I've skipped or modified, and I have no excuse.

You soak the plank for an hour, and unlike the cedar wrappers, you can use these planks again presuming you soak them good enough. I soaked them in water, but Jim poured a shot of brandy in because he's wild like that. Honestly, I couldn't tell in the end product, but it sounds cool.

Unlike the cedar wrapped shrimp, this dish took quite a bit of prep work. It doesn't help that raw chicken is kind of gross and I felt like I was getting chicken cooties everywhere. The wild natives* and my caffeine crash were partially to blame, because I quite literally flung raw chicken everywhere. Raw chicken is disgusting. Not only does it feel like you are spraying salmonella perfume around your kitchen, but it also looks like dead human flesh. (I'm quickly talking myself into being vegetarian here I realize). I had to completely bleach and disinfect my counters and throw everything in the dishwasher for a sanitary rinse before I could make the salad. It was that bad. I was not on my A game.

On a less disgusting note. I didn't have pepper jack, but I did have jack, jalapenos and anaheim chilies, so I chopped them up and stuffed them in the chicken breasts for a homemade pepper jack. I have to say it was much tastier than even the store bought kind.

Bacon. Bacon makes everything better.

I was really surprised by how powerful the maple smell was. Open the grill up to check on the chicken and BAM, you get a full wave of all your favorite campfire memories. Thankfully, right about now it was looking a lot more appetizing and smelling even more amazing. Maybe all that work was not for naught.

I served it with these mashed potatoes with garlic, mascarpone, and caramelized leeks.
And I have to admit it was all pretty spectacular. But not in a comfort food sort of way, but more like South America meets the Old West in a clash of fireworks. If this meal were an outfit, they'd be stripped stockings, under a Victorian lace dress with an opera mask and stilettos.

Maple Plank (soaked at least one hour)
Chipotle Bacon Slather:
-1 C. Mayo
-1/2 C. crumbled bacon
-1/4 C. chopped green onion
-1 chopped Chipotle chile in adobo sauce

four 4-5oz boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 slices pepper jack cheese

1-make indirect heat in your grill
2-to make slather: combine all ingredients
3-cut a horizontal pocket into each chicken breast without cutting all the way through. Stuff each pocket with 2 slices of cheese, then place chicken breasts on plank. Spread each breast with the slather, making sure to spread it so as to seal the edges of the chicken to the plank
4-place the plank on the indirect side of the grill. Close lid and cook until the part of the breasts register 160F (25-35 min)
5-Serve the chicken

* (Picture of a wild native)
Between potty training, rolling in the dirt, and screaming like a banshee, I have no idea what happened to Charlie, but he has been replaced by this sarcastic, little, non chicken eater.
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