Just imagine one of those bland or dry Sunday night roasted chickens your mom used to make. Only now they are moist, tender, and bathed in flavorful smoke. Not to mention, the wonderful warm spices and slow cooking, to the point where it melts in your mouth. I really think that smoking chicken is the way chicken was meant to be cooked, well except for Hot Fried.
I spatchcocked my last few birds and I’m sold on the technique. That is to cut out the backbone and spread it out flat. I’ve gotten very good and moist results using the technique. There are many videos on YouTube to show you how. It’s actually quite easy, especially if you have a good pair of poultry shears and a sharp knife.
We love smoked chicken and it is far superior to any rotisserie chicken you can purchase at the grocery store. The meat is moist and juicy with a wonderful smokey flavor.
One other thing we love about smoked chicken is that it is outstanding for leftovers. We always make extras, knowing that the meat will be great in wraps, sandwiches, or on pizza. Use the carcass to make some smoked chicken broth for a soup with so much flavor.
I usually keep cabinet temp 225 to 250 F, until the thickest portion is at 160 to 165 F. Some like it hotter to “crisp” up the skin, but I won’t risk a dried-up bird for a crispier skin. Some will finish inside in the oven as well.
The first step in smoking a barbecue chicken is to find a good chicken. Don’t pick up a shriveled-up, frozen bird. Pick out a fresh, plump bird, and try to avoid any chicken that is packed with “solution”.
Many, if not most chickens these days, are mixed with a chemical brine to make it look good and plump. This makes them look good, but it doesn’t necessarily make them taste good. Consider getting two or three or four. Four is as easy to smoke as one. I usually try to find a 4 to 5-pound bird.
Woods And Brines
Normally, I don’t brine chickens. I have a hard time finding a “non-enhanced” bird and a brine would not work very well with an enhanced bird. Besides, with the spatchcock method, I find they don’t dry out as much as a whole hunched up bird.
However, a typical brine is one cup of salt to one gallon of water. Add spices as your tastebuds guide you. Typically, for a rub, I’ll use a rosemary/garlic blend, a Montreal Chicken blend, a lemon/pepper blend, or just salt and pepper. Occasionally, I will marinate in Italian dressing and then sprinkle the rub-on. Sometimes I will use a marinade of Dales, Worcestershire sauce, and jalapeno juice, along with some Mexican spices.
Sometimes, I will place things such as sliced sausage or chorizo, or sliced lemons, herbs, or butter between the skin and the meat. Have not done that with a spatchcock, but often with a whole hunched-up bird. If doing a whole hunched up bird, I will usually stuff the cavity with butter, onions, and jalapenos.
Be sure to keep the vent open. And in the Bradley, the skin will not likely get crispy. But I have no trouble with that, as the skin tastes fantastic.
Smoked chicken is definitely going to be the star of the show for your work’s potluck, family holiday feast, or just to show off for your sweetie. Don’t forget to check out the Bradley Smoker Blog for more food smoking tips & tricks to get you started on your cookout adventure.