A PSA for GirlCarnivore readers. – Smoke your chickens.
You want a bird that is full of flavor, juicy, and tender? Not something that’s skin peels back, is so try you need a swig after every bite, and the only flavor is coming from the sodium in the whipped up packet of gravy. I’m here to tell you, go out and buy a Slapchop! Wait. Wrong pitch.
Buy a smoker. A small electric one will do for novice smokers. You can pick them up starting around $200 at your local home store. Grab some wood chips, and lets get to smoking. Really, it’s the easiest form of cooking. Set it and forget it, except with 10 times the flavor of any buy it now counter top rotisserie.
There are tons out on the market. Research has me pricing out smokers big enough to hold a full pig, to ones I need a trailer to hull. There’s electric, pellet, wood, side heated, air vented, barrel, ceramic and more options for something so simple then you can imagine. But for the average back home grill master, a small electric smoker will do. They are terrible convenient, can fit a decent amount of food, and take all the guess work and patience out of making sure the temperatures hold throughout the long process. If you use it all the time, it won’t last but a few years, but by then you will have mastered the sacred grill knowledge and will be ready to move onward and upwards.
Once you grab that smoker at the home store and are getting down with “the power of doing” you are going to turn a corner and be overwhelmed by the over abundance of wood chips now available in any grill department. Apple, cheery, hickory, maple – just to name a few. Hell, there are a lot of trees out there. What I’m going to tell you right now, I will regret later as we learn and grow together, but for today and the process of learning… It doesn’t matter which wood you pick. Grab one. It’s all going to taste awesome. Later we can get to pairing woods with protienes and get all fancy up in here. But just to get you out of Home Depot and back to the actual “smoking”, grab one, don’t over think it and get to the check out.
Wait! Before you get home – you do have something amazing in the fridge waiting to be baked in a smoke-bath and turned into pure deliciousness right?
Start with whole chickens. Small ones, about 5 -7 pounds. They feed a family and are EASY. There’s no guess work. You plop that bird in – magic happens – and a few patient hours later you are in heaven. Well, the birds not. But you are.
Smoking is easy, ribs, brisket, pork shoulders are all going to be a breeze, but for today and learning (and honestly, this is the ONLY way I prepare whole birds any more), grab a chicken. It’s a great starting place for smoking. And you’ll be so darned impressed with yourself you will be sure to be smoking something else by weeks end.
Ok you pretty much have everything you need. But smoking takes a little more time, a little patience, and a little prep work.
Go home and rub that bird. Rub it with whatever you want. Olive oil and poultry seasoning even work (seriously, I’ve done it). But a good mix of any old brown sugar, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder go a long way. Spend an afternoon Googling poultry rubs. But don’t over think it. And let those flavors mingle as long as you can, overnight being the best option.
Soak the wood chips. Soak them at least 3 hours for a short smoke like chickens.
Put a drip pan with some water on the bottom rack of your smoker. Make sure the racks are arranged so that when it’s go time the chicken fits.
When everything is set and ready, put the smoker around 225. Smoke the chicken for about 4 hours, checking temp for doneness and adding new wood chips at 2 hours.
And boom. Present your amazing hard work to the hungry family, watch their eyes light up, their tummy’s growl, their mouths water. Watch them crown you king of the grill. Maintain that thrown. Grill more, smoke often. Because really, smoking is all about trial and error, but really even the ‘error’s are delicious.