I’ve been wanting to try chicken breasts in banana leaves for a while now. I decided to try this in the smoker, knowing that the problem with the leaves catching fire wouldn’t be an issue as on the grill.
You could actually not even use any wood at all, because I don’t think much smoke is going to get to the chicken breasts through the banana leaves. But on the other hand, the banana leaves give the meat it’s own special flavor!
So then, this is how I did it. Try this out for yourself, and you won’t regret it, because these chicken breasts were mighty tasty!
Smoked Tropical Chicken in Banana Leaves
You will need:
4 boneless, skinless chicken beasts
banana leaves (carried frozen at most Asian grocers)
about 7 feet of a sturdy string
12 oz. can pineapple juice (frozen concentrate – thawed)
12 oz. can orange juice (frozen concentrate – thawed)
12 oz. can banana juice (frozen concentrate – thawed)
1/2 cup mango juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
Needed inside the banana leaves:
orange bell pepper
First we need to get the chicken marinated. We want them to marinate for at least 8 hours. (We did ours overnight)
1) In a microwaveable bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients together. Microwave for 30 seconds to dissolve the ginger into the juices. Put this into the refrigerator to let this cool for about 30 minutes before pouring over the meat.
2) Next you want to put the chicken breasts into a container and pour the marinade over them. Seal the container and put them into the refrigerator for 8 hours.
3) After the chicken breasts have finished marinating, take them out of the refrigerator and pour off and discard the marinade.
4) Now cut 4 pieces of the banana leaf at a length of 15″ each. Place them in water to allow them to soak a bit to soften them and make them more pliable. Also throw your string into the water also.
Note: The banana leaves are useable right away after taking from the freezer, but tear easily if not softened!
5) Now chop the pineapple, mango and orange bell pepper into about 1/2″ square pieces. Cut enough to amply cover both sides of the chicken breast while wrapped in the leaves.
6) Take one sheet of the banana leaves and place some of the pineapple, mango and pepper on the sheet. Now place a breast on top of that, then ad more on top of the breast. Wrap the banana leaf around the breast, and then fold each end over. Now secure it with an appropriate length of the string. (See the pictures below for an example)
Here is what it looked like before wrapping:
And here is what it looked like after wrapping and tying it.
7) Now we need to get the smoker going. I used apple wood for this on the chance that some of the smoke would permeate the banana leaves. A good fruit wood always goes well with poultry. You’ll want to get the smoker up to a temperature of 240 degrees F and let it settle in there before putting on the chicken.
8 ) Once the smoker temperature has settled in at 240 degrees F, put the chicken on and close up the smoker. Maintain the temperature throughout the cook at this temperature. Of course, as always, it will fluctuate off and on 10 to 15 degrees.
9) You’ll want to monitor the temperature of the chicken breasts by putting a digital probe through the banana leaf into the center of one of the breasts. When the temperature reaches 165 degrees F inside the chicken breast, take it off, because it’s time to eat! This took me exactly 3 hours to achieve the temperature of 165 degrees F.
When I unwrapped the first chicken breast, I had to take a picture! It was so tender and juicy looking inside of that crisped up and slightly burned banana leaf!