For this article I picked up some chicken legs and thighs and I want to show you how easy it is to throw some of these together for a party or outdoor event. They are delicious when seasoned up with some of my rub and smoked and unlike whole chickens, you don't have to cut them up.. when they get done, folks can start grabbing and eating and that's what parties are all about.
- Half dozen chicken legs
- Half dozen chicken thighs
- 1 cup of Jeff's rub
- 1 cup Extra virgin olive oil
- Large Ziploc bag
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Prepping the Chicken
Place all of the chicken pieces down in a large ziploc bag and pour about 1 cup of olive oil over the top of the chicken. Pour the rub over the chicken as well then zip the top and roll/toss the chicken around until all of the chicken is well coated with the rub/oil mixture.
The cool thing about this technique that I have discovered is that the oil mixes with the rub turning it into a paste which then tends to get all up under the skin as well as all over the outside of the skin. This is the perfect way to get that flavor where it needs to be without having to pull the skin back on each individual piece.
Getting the Smoker Ready
For this recipe I had some errands to run so I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to try out the Bradley smoker unattended.
I have the 4-rack digital model so I set it up with about 2 hours worth of “Special Blend” smoking biscuits or “pucks” and a bowl of water for the spent ones to fall into.
I set the smoker timer for 2 hours, the oven temperature on 220 and the oven timer on 4 hours.
Smoking the Chicken
I love the Bradley smoker racks and use them excessively even when I am using a different smoker. They are perfect for keeping the meat secure while it is carried back and forth from the kitchen to the smoker. I brought a couple of the racks into the house, laid it on a large cookie sheet to contain drips and loaded it up with the chicken.
I also threw some boudin on another rack for good measure.. boudin, brats or even some sausage links are always a good thing to throw on while you are smoking something else. The boudin is ready to eat with some crackers in about 2.5 to 3 hours.
The racks were loaded into the smoker with the chicken on the bottom and the boudin on top (you don't want that chicken dripping on the boudin).
I did a final check to make sure everything was setup right and I took off leaving the Bradley to maintain my set temperature and to provide perfect thin blue smoke for the alotted time.
When is it Done?
You might think that chicken pieces being small would get done really fast but it usually takes about as much time as it does to smoke a whole chicken. The advantage is that it's already all cut up and no carving is required.
These pieces, as I figured, took about 4 hours and 10 minutes at the 220 degree temperature I cooked them at.
The rub did NOT burn and they were perfectly tender and juicy at 165 degrees internal temperature.
How to Get the Chicken Skin Crispy
I have come to the conclusion that chicken skin from the smoker is just not going to have that “crispy bite” that fried chicken has. The olive oil in this recipe helps to crisp up the skin some and if you are really desperate you can throw the chicken on a really hot grill for just a few minutes when it gets almost done but you have to be careful as you don't want the rub to burn.
As an alternative to the grill you can place the chicken under the broiler of your oven for a couple of minutes but watch it carefully so it does not burn.
Some folks opt to smoke the chicken at much higher temperatures (250-275) however, while this will crisp the chicken a little more, I prefer to cook it at the lower temperatures so I can use a good rub and ensure that it does not burn during the cooking process.
What About Chicken Quarters?
You can do chicken quarters in the same manner as the legs and thighs and in fact, I think chicken quarters are sometimes a better option when you are doing a dinner with sides. One quarter is usually perfect portion and they are also very inexpensive. Add a little smoke and it's a meal fit for a king! Just like the legs and thighs, the quarters will take about 4 hours to reach 165 degrees if you keep the temperature down low.
If you are interested in chicken wings, you need to read my latest article dedicated completely to that subject. It can be found here.
What's up With Using Pucks in that Bradley?
The biscuits or “pucks” as I call them work very well but I have discovered that if you get in a pinch and run out of them, you can lay a chunk of mesquite, hickory or whatever you have on the metal rack that heats up to make the “pucks” smoke and it will provide smoke for a while. You will have to keep replacing the chunks every 30 minutes or so which is sort of counter productive to what that smoker is all about.
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