Pepper Chicken Roll!

Let’s throw something fun on the smoker!

During weekly meal planning with my wife Stacey, she asked me if I wanted to make something for dinner on my kamado grill. My mind got to thinking about what we had on hand, and I remembered that Stacey had picked a lot of jalapenos and some sort of long green pepper from her garden this summer that we had stashed in the freezer along with 1lb portions of chicken breast. An idea popped into my mind and a dinner was planned! Sauteed peppers, provolone, rolled up in chicken was going on the menu!

I’ve done these rolls before, and they are great with either chicken or beef. But to start, you need some peppers. I added a red bell pepper to the mix for it’s flavor and to add some color. The peppers, along with some onion, were finely diced and sauteed in butter until the onions were translucent and the peppers soft. I did de-seed the peppers, except for the jalapenos, as I wanted a little heat on them.

Breakfast with my cooking…
Pepper and onion mixture on the stove to saute.
The house smelled pretty damn good after this!

The next item to prep was the chicken. I selected two chicken breast, approximately 1 lb each, trimmed any fat from them, and pounded them with a meat tenderizer until relatively flat. If you do this, make sure you cover the chicken with clear plastic wrap so that you don’t get little bits of chicken and chicken juice splattering all over your kitchen.

Time to flatten some chicken!

Once the chicken was flattened out, I arranged it on some clear plastic wrap, slightly overlapped, so it could be easily rolled up. I then selected a BBQ rub from the pantry to sprinkle on the chicken. I went with Fox Bros. BBQ’s rub; they have a restaurant in Atlanta, and their brisket chili is AWESOME (especially on tater tots). This rub is sold in local grocery stores, but any BBQ rub that suites your tastes would be great to use!

Fox Bros. BBQ rub is pretty much good on anything!
Flattened chicken arranged for rolling and sprinkled with BBQ rub.

Next comes the cheese! Any cheese can be used; I went with provolone because I enjoy the flavor when it’s melted up with the peppers. Simply just slap down slices and try to get some good coverage on the chicken. I left a little space at the top of the chicken free to overlap once it was all rolled up.

Cheesy chicken!

And the last thing needed before rolling up the chicken is the pepper mixture. I simply spooned it over the cheese and spread it out evenly.

It’s starting to look good!

Rolling the chicken up can be a little trying on the patience, but having the plastic wrap to help, and butcher’s string pre-cut and ready, makes it a little easier. Once you have a decent roll, tie it up with the string to help it hold its shape. I also sprinkled the outside with more of the Fox Bros. BBQ rub.

All rolled up and ready to go on the kamado grill to smoke!

I prepped the grill with lump charcoal, and pieces of whisky barrel staves from Jack Daniel’s Distillery. The smoking wood from Jack Daniel’s was a Christmas gift from my wife that I was waiting to use for a special meal. A ceramic diffuser was used to keep the direct heat away from the chicken roll.

Jack Daniel’s makes everything good!
Lump charcoal and Jack Daniel’s smoking wood.
Ceramic diffuser, covered in foil, in place for indirect heating.

I’m using a BBQ Guru CyberQ bbq controller with my Vision Kamado Professional S Series kamado grill. The CyberQ makes maintaining and following your cook super easy. In fact, I was able to monitor the progress, on my phone and laptop, while playing Call of Duty on my Xbox!

It looks like a bit of a science experiment with all of the wires.
The app is set up, and now the chicken needs to go on!

Once the chicken roll was on the smoker, I inserted a temperature into the center, and set my desired temperatures. With the CyberQ bbq controller, the kamado was set to hold around 250°, while the desired chicken temperature was set to 165°. The chicken roll was on the smoker for two hours and forty-six minutes for the duration of the cook.

The chicken is on!
And we’ve hit the targets!
It ran a little on the hot side, but I still got the desired results.
(The top line is the kamado temperature, and the bottom is the peppery chicken roll.)
After nearly three hours, we had some cheese leakage!

I wrapped the finished chicken roll in foil, and then in several towels, before dropping it into an empty cooler to allow it to continue to stay hot for a little. A short time later, it was ready to slice and serve! I made up some cheese rice from Knorr to go with it; it was all great!

Sliced end from the chicken roll.
Plated with the cheesy rice. It was all very good!

The take aways:

  • It’s fun messing around in the kitchen and making something like this.
  • Technology like the CyberQ bbq controller is really neat!
  • Dinner was great!

An Answer to a Question No One Asked!

Which country fried chicken frozen meal is not garbage?

Please folks! Help me out with sharing and growing Good Food, Bad Food! Your support means the world to me!

Back when I was single, I had a favorite frozen meal; Claim Jumper’s Country Fried Chicken. It had a good size REAL chicken breast in great tasting mashed potatoes and white gravy with a half of a corn on the cob. Sadly, the Claim Jumper line of frozen meals was discontinued. But all turned out okay because around the same time, I ended up getting married and my wife made me start eating real food!

Recently, while working night shifts, I found myself awake all night on my days off from work, sitting in the basement playing Xbox and drinking Jack Daniel’s. I’d eventually get hungry, and I needed something quick and easy to eat that I could prepare without waking my wife up. Much to my delight that meant frozen dinners, in the microwave, in the basement. While trolling the frozen food aisles at the local Kroger grocery store, I loaded up with dinners that I liked, and Country Fried Chicken is a common meal made by several different frozen dinner brands. What I found though is that not all Country Fried Chicken meals are created equal. Some of them actually suck, a lot! Read on to see what meals I tasted and how they were.

A selection of frozen Country Fried Chicken meals ready for testing!

Healthy Choice Country Fried Chicken

Is it healthy? Is it good?

I have to say, I was very surprised with this selection. I figured it was going to absolutely suck! While it didn’t exactly knock my socks off, it was okay and I didn’t feel like I was going to throw it back up. The chicken patty was very obviously processed meat but it had an okay texture. The mashed potato and gravy mixture was a little too thick and had a paste like consistency. Over all, the entree section of this frozen meal wasn’t that bad, but it was a little on the bland side. The corn was a little rubbery and also very bland. It needed the addition of salt and pepper. It also had a side of spiced apples. The spiced apples were actually very good, but the serving size was absolutely pathetic, leaving me wanting more! Overall, it would have taken two of these meals to have satisfied me. But compared to the competition this meal is a healthier, albeit, bland choice.

Healthy Choice Country Fried Chicken.
  • 330 Calories
  • 3g Sat. Fat
  • 500mg Sodium
  • 10g Total Sugars

Stouffer’s Fried Chicken

Stouffer’s Fried Chicken.

I was a little excited with this once based on how it looked on the box. Whoever Stouffer’s hired to photograph the food for their boxes did a great job because the chicken turned out to not look anywhere near as appetizing in real life as it is on the box! Using a fork to cut into the chicken patty reveals an extremely processed chicken product that is very crumbly and sponge-like. When I describe it as sponge-like, I mean this chicken patty looked like a pale, white sponge. The texture wasn’t that great and it was on the dry side. However, the mashed potatoes were actually pretty good, as was the gravy. It could have used more gravy. More gravy would have offset the horrible, dry, sponge-like chicken! There were no additional side items in this meal and it would have taken three or four of these entrees for me to have felt satiated after eating them. On paper this one doesn’t look to be all that bad for you, but once you eat enough to feel full you’ve consumed some major calories and sodium!

Looks okay on the outside, but not that good on the inside!
  • 350 Calories
  • 4.5g Sat. Fat
  • 950mg Sodium
  • 2g Total Sugars

Marie Callender’s Country Fried Chicken & Gravy

Marie Callender’s Country Fried Chicken & Gravy.

The chicken from the Marie Callender’s Country Fried Chicken & Gravy had a great, realistic texture and flavor. The gravy was okay, but tasted like it was loaded with black pepper. The gravy and mashed potatoes were on the thick side, but overall not that bad, minus the load of black pepper. The corn was great! It had a nice buttery flavor and texture. When I first started eating the Marie Callender’s Country Fried Chicken & Gravy, I felt the black pepper flavor was way to much and made the meal crap. Over time, I got used to it, and it doesn’t bother me as much. It takes two of these meals, a combined 2300mg of sodium, to make me feel not hungry.

Loaded with black pepper!
  • 460 Calories
  • 8g Sat. Fat
  • 1150mg Sodium
  • 3g Total Sugars

Banquet Chicken Fried Chicken

Banquet Chicken Fried Chicken

I am thankful the Banquet Chicken Fried Chicken meal wasn’t anything like portrayed on the box. Is that Elmer’s glue running off that chicken in the photo on the box? It certainly doesn’t look natural or appetizing to me! The chicken patty is very processed and is a little too soft in texture, but not awful. The mashed potatoes are VERY thin; this becomes a small issue because they are separate from the meat and gravy. When you use a fork to scoop them over to mix with the meat and gravy, the mashed potatoes run through the tines of the fork. The corn was also okay, just a little on the salty side. It will remind you of how loaded with sodium these meals are! Speaking of sodium; it takes two of these to feel full. That’s 2200mg of sodium!

You could almost drink the mashed potatoes with a straw. Ewwww.
  • 330 Calories
  • 3g Sat. Fat
  • 1100mg Sodium
  • 5g Total Sugars

Banquet Country Fried Chicken Bowl

Banquet Mega Bowl Country fried Chicken.

This one was absolutely disappointing. It had such promise; a bowl of fried chicken pieces, mashed potatoes, corn, cheese, and gravy. But they used the wrong gravy! The gravy was weak thin, and flavorless; not the thick country style gravy it should have been. The gravy was so bad that my wife actually bought me little packets of white gravy to make and pour on this meal (probably so she could stop my complaining). I had to carefully spoon out the gravy it came with to replace it. A pain in the butt, but it made the meal more palatable. What a disappointment! I’d only eat one of these in a sitting, with something smaller to go with it. It’s a good thing because the sodium in these is off the chain!

  • 450 Calories
  • 6g Sat. Fat
  • 1380mg Sodium
  • 3g Total Sugars

Conclusion

None of these meals come close to holding a candle to the Claim Jumper Chicken Fried Chicken frozen meal with it’s real chicken breast, flavorful mashed potatoes and gravy, and real corn on the cob. I’d definitely categorize all of these in the Bad Food category, but if ranked, I’d say the Marie Callender’s Country Fried Chicken & Gravy and Banquet Chicken Fried Chicken are the better of the five frozen meals. After eating enough of them, I got past the over peppery flavor of the Marie Callender’s Country Fried Chicken & Gravy meal and it became my preferred version of this frozen dinner. But the bottom line, they’re all Bad Food. They’re all pretty unhealthy and overly processed. I’m glad I’m back on day shifts with my job, eating dinner at home with my wife again, and not eating frozen meals in my basement at 3:00 AM. Who knows; maybe in a future article I can detail how to make this dish from scratch the right way instead of the frozen meal way?

The take aways:

  • The Claim Jumper Country Fired Chicken meal was damn good!
  • All of these meals left a lot to be desired.
  • The Marie Callender’s Country Fried Chicken & Gravy meal was the best of these, even though it was loaded with pepper.
  • These meals have probably contributed to my arteries hardening in the worse way!
  • Have you seen those sodium numbers!?!?!
  • If it tastes good, it’s garbage for you. If it’s good for you, it tastes like garbage!
  • Does anybody actually care? Probably not, but know you know what I think about Country Fried Chicken frozen meals!