From the Smoke House of Jim P and some of the best smoked chicken I have had to date!
Great smoked chicken recipes start with a rub!
The chicken is first “rubbed”, with a simple, dry, spice accented rub recipe and then smoked slow, with low indirect heat. All for that unforgettable tender, perfectly seasoned, eating experience!
Sometimes, when time is a factor, we will use the readily available “Lemon Pepper” seasoning from our favorite purveyors. Works great, but for more fun and adventure…
Let’s start with a classic rub that will impart all of the flavors your drooling chops are hankerin’ for. Do not let the simplicity of this basic rub fool you. It works great, and you can adjust the recipe (as the “pros” do) to make it “yours”. Look at our Rubs page for other great recipes and ideas.
Basic Rub Recipe
Mix together thoroughly the following:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar (packed). We prefer “turbinado sugar” for ease of use, but either one works fine.
1/4 cup sweet paprika (Hungarian, if you can get it)
3 tblsp kosher salt
1 tblsp ground pepper (fresh peppercorns recently ground!)
1 tblsp garlic powder or 2 tblsp granulated (not garlic salt)
1 tblsp onion powder
1 tblsp chili powder (no, it will not be “hot”)
1 tblsp cayenne powder
You can see other simple dry rub recipes that work wonders, at our dry rub recipes page.
Now, let’s prepare the meat…
NOTE: Chicken should be always kept in the refrigerator (below 40°F/4.4° C) before preparation.
Take the thawed chicken out of the refrigerator, clean and rinse all pieces thoroughly – pat dry.
Apply the rub generously over the pieces, all sides and under the skin, if you can. We like to do this at least a couple of hours, and preferably 1-3 days, before cooking for the maximum effect. Remember to keep the chicken in the refrigerator until you are ready to put it on the fire.
Get that Smoker Ready…
Our recipe for smoking chicken is written for the vertical ‘box”, or “bullet” wet-pan type smokers, regardless of the heat source so…
Fill the water pan to within an inch of the top (or at least 2/3 full). Use hot water to help avoid wasting fuel.
For gas or electric smokers, place the chips (presoaked in water 20 min. to an hour) in the wood chip box. One full box of chips will last for several hours, which will be sufficient for the whole cooking time.
Fire-up the cooker and get the temperature to about 235°F (113°C) and prepare to keep that temperature as steady as you can! Maintain the temperature between 200 – 235°F (93-113°C) for the ideal smoked chicken.
NOTE: If you are smoking chicken using a charcoal fired smoker, soak 3 – 4 cups of (dry) chips/chunks for about an hour, drain and place them directly on the coals, once the smoker has reached temperature. This will be sufficient for the entire cooking period, regardless of the addition of more coals. Too much smoke = bitter and nasty!
Control the temperature using the bottom vents only. The top vent should always remain open and not used to control oxygen intake. Each cooker is different so, when smoking chicken, experience rules!
NOTE: Always use tongs and a heat proof glove/mit when smoking chicken! Never use the forked, sharp, pokey thing that seems to come with all backyard barbecue tool sets. It will pierce the meat and allow the juices to run out.
When the temperature (inside the smoker at the grill) has reached 235°F (113°C)…
Place chicken in the smoker, breast side down to start. After 1 1/2 to 2 hours, turn it over to finish.
Resist peeking! You’re loosing precious heat and smoke. Open the lid/door only far enough to do the job and don’t tarry!
You have time! If you have judiciously maintained the cooking temperature, peeked, and turned the chicken quickly, you can leave your station several times before the bird(s) are done. When smoking chicken think 4+ hours ’til end-of-shift.
Check the chicken at the meatiest part of the breast between the bones, looking for 160°F (71°C) to be the magic number. Remove the bird(s) and let it rest for at least 10 minutes to allow it to “finish” (allows the juices to return to the bird’s center).
* Check out this web site for more detail – http://www.the-greatest-barbecue-recipes.com/
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