A couple of Thanksgivings ago, we learned what great things bacon butter can do to poultry and here we are doing it again on a smoked chicken with the addition of some chives. The original rub recipe seasons the butter which goes under the skin and the Texas style rub recipe seasons the outside of the skin just perfectly (purchase recipes here).
I opted to remove the backbone of this chicken so it would open up and cook faster and more evenly. You don't have to do that part, but I do recommend it.
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People are always amazed at how great my original rub recipe tastes on poultry and that's exactly why we used it in the bacon butter that was stuffed under the skin of this bird. The Texas style rub was sprinkled on the outside of the skin just before it went into the smoker.
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- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 to 3.5 hours
- Smoker Temp: 225-325°F (depends on smoker capability)
- Meat Finish Temp: 165°F
- Recommended Wood: Oak and Cherry
- 1-2 whole chickens
- 1 gallon of brine (recipe below)
- 1 stick or ¼ lb of butter (leave out for a couple of hours to soften)
- 4 slices of bacon, raw and chopped into small pieces
- 3 TBS of chives, chopped
- Jeff’s original rub recipe (purchase recipes here)
- Jeff's Texas style rub (purchase recipes here)
This simply means we cut out the backbone with some kitchen shears.
You just cut along both sides of the backbone, through the ribs, so you can remove the backbone.
This allows you to open up the chicken like a book and lay it flat, breast sides up.
Note: I went further and removed the rib cage but you don't really have to do that unless you just want to. I slip a sharp knife between the ribs and the breast meat and cut it free.
This allows for better access to season the breast meat and easier carving later.
Make a brine consisting of 1 gallon of cold water and 1 cup of coarse kosher salt. Mix the salt into the water until the water is clear.
Place the butterflied chicken into a lidded container and cover it with the brine mixture until covered. You can also use a gallon sized zip top bag.
Put the container with the chicken into the fridge for 4-6 hours to brine.
Tip: Do this while the chicken is brining.
To a small mixing bowl, add the softened stick of butter, 3 TBS of chopped chives, Jeff's original rub (purchase recipes here), and chopped uncooked bacon.
Mix the ingredients together well.
Tip: use a meat cleaver to chop the bacon into tiny bits or you can place all of the ingredients into a food processor.
When the chicken is finished brining, remove it from the fridge. Discard the brine and rinse the chicken under cold water to remove any excess salt on the surface.
Dry the chicken with paper towels and lay breast side up on a cutting board to stuff with the bacon butter.
Work your hands under the skin that surrounds the breast meat to make room for the bacon butter mixture.
The above recipe is enough for about two chickens.
Grab some of the bacon butter mixture and stuff it under the skin pushing it back and to the sides of the chicken breast.
repeat this procedure on both sides of the chicken breast until you have used all of the mixture (no sense in wasting any).
Flip the chicken over and sprinkle some Texas rub on the bottom side as well..
The chicken is now ready to go on the smoker or grill. I recommend placing it on a Weber grill pan or Bradley rack for easy transport to and from the smoker.
Chicken is one of those things that is great at low temperatures and great at high temperatures.. we call that “being versatile”.
I used the Traeger pellet smoker on this one and kept it on the smoke setting for about an hour for some great smoke then kicked it up to 375°F to finish it off.
You can follow the same routine by smoking it at low temperature in your smoker then throwing it on the grill or even in the oven to finish.
Or, you can just smoke it low and slow at 225-275°F until it reaches 165°F.
If you smoke it fast, you can get it done in about 2 hours or less. At low and slow, you are looking at 3.5 to 4 hours.
Of course, these times and temperatures are dependent upon:
- How often you open the door
- How well you and your smoker maintains the set temperature
- Weather and ambient temperature
Regardless of what temperature you cook at, I recommend indirect heat if possible.
For smoke, I recommend a mixture of oak and cherry if you have it or just about any good smoking wood will work and taste great. Orange wood is especially good on poultry if you can find it.
Keep a light smoke going for the entire time if you can.
When the chicken reaches 165°F it is finished and should be removed from the smoker or grill immediately.
Let it rest for about 10 minutes before carving.
With the bird splayed out flat, it is very easy to carve and can be separated into it's parts quickly and easily using a sharp knife or a meat cleaver.
The entire bird was extremely juice.. even the breast meat!
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- Cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it.
- Once the backbone is removed, press the chicken open so that it lays open like a book.
- Create a brine from 1 gallon of cold water and 1 cup of coarse kosher salt and mix together until the water returns to clear.
- Place the chicken into a lidded container or zip top bag and pour the brine over the chicken to cover.
- Refrigerate the chicken for 4-6 hours while it brines.
- While the chicken is brining, make the bacon butter mixture by adding 1 stick of butter, 3 TBS of chopped chives, 1 TBS of Jeff's original rub and 4 slices of uncooked, chopped bacon to a small mixing bowl.
- Mix the bacon butter ingredients together until it is well combined.
- When the chicken is finished brining, discard the brine and rinse the chicken under cold water.
- Set the chicken breast sides up on the cutting board and work the skin around the breast loose with your hands.
- Stuff the bacon butter mixture under the skin of the chicken.
- Brush olive oil onto the outside of the skin and season generously with Jeff's Texas style rub recipe or a salt/pepper mixture.
- Place the chicken into the smoker breast side up and cook at 225-325°F until it reaches 165°F in the thickest part. Some smokers will not cook beyond 225-240°F but you can get the chicken done faster and get a better bite through on the skin from higher temperatures if your smoker will do it.
- Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before carving and serving.