Smoked Chicken
Credit: dskillzhtown

Spring is coming and with it, that most American of past times... BBQ!  The wonderful thing about BBQ is that there are so many wonderful things that fall into that category.  From cooking style to regional sauces to the tools used, it is a diverse branch of culinary delights.  Personally I am a smoker. I love Dry rubbed smoked meat and I don’t think you will find a more traditional and superstitious lot in the whole BBQ kingdom as smokers.  We each have our secret ingredients, our favorite method and most importantly our favorite wood.  But smoking doesn’t have to be hard and for the home smoker perhaps the easiest way to get started is with Chicken.  

I know, all you veteran BBQers out there are already getting mad at me knowing of course that chicken is notoriously hard to keep from turning into dry leathery chicken jerky on the BBQ or smoker. Give me a minute to explain. Like everything there are tricks of the trade.  In this case there are a few things you will need. The number one item is an electric smoker,  I am not a fan of electric smokers for most meats. I never have liked ribs out of one for example, but for consistently good chicken they can’t be beat.

There are tons of good electric smokers out there ranging from tricked out systems costing hundreds of dollars to the simple old Brinkmann Electric Grill/Smoker.  Which one really doesn’t matter for this application, so just go with what you like.

Brinkmann 810-7080-8 Gourmet Electric Smoker and Grill with Vinyl Cover, Red
Amazon Price: $189.95 $105.98 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 17, 2014)

The second trick is large, really large,chickens preferably whole or large breasts/leg quarters with the skin on, I cannot stress that enough you cannot get good smoked chicken without the skin on.  You can always remove the skin before eating if you are concerned about the fat.

Finally, Brine the chicken overnight in a mixture of water, salt and brown sugar or use an marinade injector.  This provides a great opportunity to kick up the flavor and moistness of poultry.  You don’t have to purchase a store bought marinade but the Cajun Injector company makes several that are good.  My mother uses straight butter and garlic, tucked under the skin.  Really any flavor component that can be emulsified and injected will work.

Once you have those things together it is relatively simple to put together.

Next, choose and soak your favorite smoking wood, my favorite is apple or cherry for chicken. Mesquite and hickory tend to be a little overpowering for chicken.

The chicken should be prepared by rubbing the outside with olive oil and I would definitely put some kind of rub on it, salt. pepper and garlic if nothing else or there are several good poultry rubs available. This is also where you will want to inject the chicken according to the directions provided with your injector.  

Preheat your smoker to 250 Deg (if you have the Brinkmann electric mentioned above this is about what it will heat to anyway) and add the wood.  If it has one make sure the liquid reservoir in your smoker is full with a mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts water.

Place the chicken in the smoker and leave it alone for 3 to 5 hours depending on size until it registers an internal temperature of 170 Deg in the leg.  One of those BBQ Thermometers with a pager works good here so you don’t have to bother it until it is done.  Just make sure when you use a thermometer you don’t touch the bone or it will ruin your reading.

Once it is done it will be golden brown and delicious looking but resist the temptation to dive in.  You have to let it rest.  Just let it sit quietly at room temperature for about 20 minutes.  Now you can dive in and start carving it up.  Serve it up, and enjoy!