This edition of the smoking meat newsletter is completely dedicated to yard bird. That’s
right– chicken galore and then some.

I have smoked up a whole mess of these birds and I’m gonna show you how I did it
’cause they turned out fantastic!!

Keep reading!!

To kick off this chicken party, I chose a small package of all natural boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a medium sized package of all natural chicken quarters, and two all natural whole chickens.

By “all natural”, I mean they were marked “MINIMALLY PROCESSED” and had less than 4% retained water. The breasts actually had less than 1% retained water.

All of the chicken was hormone free, vegetarian fed and seemed to be fairly happy chickens while they lived.

Smoked Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast

Recommended wood: Orange, Pecan

Smoked Chicken Breast

How to brine the chicken breasts (optional but highly recommended)

Use a 1 gallon container like a tea pitcher and fill it full of water.. spring or filtered water is best. Add 1 cup of coarse kosher salt to the water and stir until the water returns to clear. This means the salt has completely dissolved.

Add 3/4 cups brown sugar and once again, stir until the sugar is dissolved.

This is where you can get creative, for the chicken breasts, I added a bottle of Franks original hot sauce to the mixture since I wanted the breasts to be flavored like hot wings.. it sounded good at the moment.

Once you get the brine mixture combined and you are through adding ingredients, place the chicken breasts single layered into a plastic/glass container just large enough to hold the quantity of meat that you have. For best results use a container that has a tight fitting lid.

Pour the brine mixture over the chicken breasts until the chicken is completely covered, snap on the lid and place the container in the fridge for about 1 hour per pound of meat.

My 3 chicken breasts were about 1.5 lbs so I let them go 1.5 hours

Once the chicken breasts are finished brining, rinse them lightly under cold water to remove any excess salt and pat them dry with a paper towel. Place the pieces of chicken on a plate and set aside for smoking.

Preparing the chicken breasts

I usually place my rib rub or even just a salt and pepper dusting on the chicken however, I decided to let the smoke and hot sauce do all of the talking on this batch.

If you want to place a rub on the chicken breasts, I recommend applying some canola oil to each piece of chicken then about 1 tsp of my rub. Massage it all over the chicken until the rub and oil are mixed and the rub is dissolved. This will give a better end result at the higher temperatures.

How to smoke the chicken breasts

Prepare the smoker for cooking at 250-275 degrees. Chicken does NOT benefit from the low and slow mantra that we all pride ourselves on in terms of tenderness. The only reason for cooking chicken at a low temperature is to give it more time in the smoke directly resulting in more flavor.

At 275 degrees F, the chicken breasts will take about 1.5 hours.

This is plenty of time for the smoke to do some wonderful magic. I sometimes cook them lower and slower but I was pushed for time, so I sped things up and I knew the chicken would handle it with flying colors.

Place the chicken breasts directly on the grate for best results.

Use a digital probe meat thermometer to test the temperature in the center of one of the pieces.

The chicken is done when it registers 165 degrees F.

How to keep the skinless chicken breasts moist

It is true that the skin on chicken helps to keep it moist while it cooks. The skinless chicken breasts do not have this advantage so you have to help themalong while they cook to keep them moist otherwise they will dry out and you’ll have jerky on the outside with fairly tasty meat on the inside. This may sound appetizing to some, but trust me when I say it’s not ideal and it can be circumvented quite easily.

Option 1: Lay half strips of bacon across the top of the chicken breast once it

is on the smoker grate. The bacon fat will render and baste the chicken breast

while it cooks.

Option 2: Brush butter or seasoned olive oil onto both sides of the chicken breasts about every 30 minutes while they cook.

Both of these options work pretty well to keep the outside of the breasts moist while they cook.

How to serve smoked chicken breasts

With chicken breasts, you have a ton of options for serving..

-I like to slice the chicken pieces on an angle into medallions with fancy cheese and crackers.

-You can butterfly the chicken pieces and use them on a great chicken sandwich with tomatoes, lettuce, onions, my sauce.. the works

-Cube the chicken and let it get cold in the fridge. Use it to top a salad for a really tasty treat that is also very healthy.

Use your imagination and you might just come up with something amazing.


Smoked Chicken Quarters

Recommended wood: Orange, Pecan

Smoked Chicken Quarters

How to brine the chicken quarters (optional)

Use a 1 gallon container like a tea pitcher and fill it full of water.. spring or filtered water is best. Add 1 cup of coarse kosher salt to the water and stir until the water returns to clear. This means the salt has completely dissolved.

Add 3/4 cups brown sugar and once again, stir until the sugar is dissolved.

I added 1/2 cup of worcestershire sauce to the mixture for some really great flavor.

You could also add hot sauce, honey, molasses, etc. just use your imagination. The only thing to watch for is if you add a sauce or ingredient that has lots of sodium such as soy sauce. I generally use the low sodium kind for my brine or you can reduce the salt in the brine by about a TBS if you know you are adding salty ingredients later.

Once you get the brine mixture combined and you are through adding ingredients, place the chicken quarters in a single layer into a plastic/glass container just large enough to hold the quantity of meat that you have. For best results use a container that has a tight fitting lid.

Pour the brine mixture over the chicken quarters until the chicken is completely covered, snap on the lid and place the container in the fridge for about 1 hour per pound of meat.

My 5 chicken quarters were just under 3 lbs so I let them go 3 hours

Once the chicken quarters are finished brining, rinse them lightly under cold water to remove any excess salt and pat them dry with a paper towel.

Seasoning up the chicken quarters

As most of you know, my rub is extremely versatile as well as tasty and it goes really well on chicken.

If you really want to do something wonderful for the chicken, mix a TBS of my rub with a stick of melted butter and inject it under the skin to really get the flavor where it will do some good.

You can also just keep it simple and just rub a little canola oil on the outside of the chicken skin and massage in about a TSP of rub per chicken quarter. At any rate, it adds some really great flavor as well as color and texture to the chicken.

How to smoke the chicken quarters

Prepare the smoker for cooking at 250-275 degrees. As with breasts, the quarters do NOT benefit from the low and slow mantra that we all pride ourselves on in terms of tenderness. The only reason for cooking chicken at a low temperature is to give it more time in the smoke directly resulting in more flavor.

At 275 degrees F, the chicken quarters will take about 1 hour

This is plenty of time for the smoke to do some magic. I sometimes cook them lower and

slower but I was pushed for time in the preparation of this newsletter.

Place the chicken quarters directly on the grate for best results.

Use a digital probe meat thermometer to test the temperature in the thickest part of one of the pieces.

The chicken is done when it registers 165 degrees F.

How to serve chicken quarters

Chicken quarters are usually served one per person. I recommend having a little of my sauce, warmed and on the side for those who like to dip. My favorite side item with these quarters are smoked sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar.


Smoked Soda Pop Chickens

Recommended wood: Orange, Cherry, Pecan

Smoked Chicken

How to brine the chickens (optional)

Use a 1 gallon container like a tea pitcher and fill it full of water.. spring or filtered water is best. Add 1 cup of coarse kosher salt to the water and stir until the water returns to clear. This means the salt has completely dissolved.

Add 3/4 cups brown sugar and once again, stir until the sugar is dissolved.

You could also add hot sauce, honey, molasses, Dr. Pepper, beer, etc. just use your imagination. The only thing to be careful of is if you add a sauce or ingredient that has lots of sodium such as soy sauce. I generally use the low sodium kind for my brine or you can reduce the salt in the brine by about a TBS if you know you are adding salty ingredients later.

Once you get the brine mixture combined and you are finished adding ingredients, place the chickens into plastic/glass containers. I can usually fit 1 chicken into a large mixing bowl and this requires 1/2 gallons of brine to cover.

Pour the brine mixture over the chicken until the chicken is completely covered.

The chicken will tend to want to float so you can just flip the chicken over halfway through the process or you can put a heavy plate or even a clean brick inside of a gallon sized zip-top bag and on top of the chicken to hold it under water.

Place the container in the fridge for about 1 hour per pound of meat. I usually just brine whole chickens for 4 hours.

Once the chickens are finished brining, rinse them lightly under cold water to remove any excess salt and pat them dry with a paper towel.

Seasoning the chickens

If you really want to do something wonderful for the chickens, mix a TBS of my rub with a stick of melted butter and use an injector to shoot it under the skin to really get the flavor where it will do some good.

You can also just keep it simple and just rub a little canola oil on the outside of the chicken skin and massage in about a 2 TBS of rub per chicken. At any rate, it adds some really great flavor as well as color and texture to the outside of the chicken.

How to smoke the chickens

Prepare the smoker for cooking at 250-275 degrees. as with the other chicken pieces we have discussed in this newsletter, the whole chickens do not really benefit from the low and slow mantra that we all pride ourselves on in terms of tenderness. The only real reason for cooking chicken at a low temperature is to give it more time in the smoke directly resulting in more flavor.

At 275 degrees F, the chickens will take about 2 hours

This is plenty of time for the smoke to really put some major flavor into the meat. I sometimes cook them lower and slower but this was a fast paced exercise and with chicken, that always works out just fine.

For Soda pop chickens, which is just a spin-off from beer can chickens, purchase your favorite brand of non-diet soda such as Dr. Pepper, Coke, Pepsi, etc. and open 1 can per chicken, drink half of it, and force the can into the rear of the chicken.

The idea is that the sugary drink gets hot and steams into the chicken while it cooks infusing a lot of moisture and flavor into the chickens.

I used a can of Grapette and a can of Orangette soda for this experiment however, while it was very moist, it did not taste like grape or orange.

Soda Pop Cans

Spread the legs of the chicken outward to make it balance on the can straight up and directly on the grate of the smoker.

Soda Pop Chicken

Use a digital probe meat thermometer to test the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh and breast.

The chicken is done when it registers 165 degrees F.

How to serve the chickens

Remove the can from the bottom of the chicken and discard. Let the chickens rest for about 20 minutes before carving. Separate the chicken into pieces and carve slices from the breast for those who like the white meat.

You can also do like we do around here.. everyone just gathers around the bar with a fork and tears pieces from the chicken. It’s pretty barbaric but then everyone gets a little wild about my smoked chicken.

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..I tried the rub on a beef brisket and some beef ribs the other day and our entire family enjoyed it tremendously. I also made a batch of the barbeque sauce that we used on the brisket as well as some chicken. We all agreed it was the best sauce we have had in a while. ~Darwyn B.
Love the original rib rub
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1 Comment on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Ted March 1, 2013 at 11:58 am - Reply

    Will it hurt the meat to brine whole chickens for 12+ hrs.

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