On Monday, I got up and got the 5 gallon bucket out because I felt like brining and smoking some chicken. If you’ve never smoked a whole chicken, let me recommend spatchcocking it first.
Spatchcocking is a technique used to remove the spine from the chicken. It sounds like a laborious process, but really is not difficult at all. You will need some sharp kitchen shears or a good boning knife. My shears came from the grill section at Lowe’s and cost under $20.
So, I start at the “butt” end of the bird and start snipping at the right border of the spine all the way to the neck. Then I do the same on the left side until it is completely cut away and discard (I seal mine in something so the trash won’t smell).
Next, let’s brine some chicken! I had a whole bird plus a small package of skin-on thighs and wings since the “adult kids” were here. In a 5-gallon bucket (from Lowe’s with a fitting lid), I mixed 1 cup of sea salt, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and about 3 liters of tap water. But that’s not all….I added some pickle juice (about 1 cup) that I had been saving just for this day! You would not believe how good pickle juice is to brine with! Mix everything until the granules dissolve and add the chicken. Seal with a lid.
The chicken needs to come to room temperature before the smoking begins. If you don’t allow this you’ll have a gray-looking chicken which is not too appetizing. Remove it from the brine, shake off as much liquid as you can, and arrange on a large baking pan with an edge. Drizzle with olive oil or vegetable oil, paint the oil on with a silicone brush, then season with your favorite spices. I used Tony Chachere’s, Lawry’s seasoned salt, smoked paprika, and fresh ground black pepper.
Preheat the smoker to 225F (I used a Pit Boss pellet smoker with fruit pellets this time), arrange the whole chicken spineless side down and the other pieces skin side up.
You want to reach an internal smoking temp of at least 165F to kill salmonella bacteria and make the meat safe for eating. For this batch of chicken it took 1.5 – 2 hours. I turned the heat up to 300F for the last 30 minutes until reaching the desired internal temp, them wrapped tightly in heavy foil to let the meat rest. Increasing the heat will also crisp the skin if you’re into that. I hear the collagen is good for you, but some may get a little grossed out by chicken skin!
The way my daddy taught me was this: When the meat is done you can stick a fork in it and it will easily pull away from the bone. The juice should be clear.
Now, I don’t know about you, but this makes me hungry just looking back at the pictures! I hope you have enjoyed my tips on smokin’ some real hot chix! After all, that’s why I’m here! Go get smokin’!