Sunday. The perfect day for low and slow cooking using my Weber Smokey Mountain charcoal smoker.
Today, I decided to smoke some chickens. We picked up two fresh organically raised fryers at Royal Oak farmers market on Saturday. Sunday morning at 10, I had them brining in a solution of 1 gallon water, 1 cup kosher salt and 1 cup brown sugar. Stir up the mixture, place each chicken in its own gallon Ziploc bag, and add the brining solution. Seal it up and toss it into the fridge for four hours. Brining draws the water and seasoning into the chicken, which keeps the meat juicy throughout the cooking process.
Four hours later, rinse the chickens, pat them dry and get them ready for dry rub. I drizzled some olive oil on first, and then applied the rub all over, inside the cavity, and a little under the skin. I quartered a small onion and an orange, and placed half in each chicken cavity. I’ve also done this with lemon, to great results.
A half hour before seasoning the chicken, I started my coals in the Weber charcoal chimney. To the smoker I added the hot coals, poured a half gallon of water plus one beer into the drip pan, got the heat up to 210, and placed the chickens, breast side down, on the top shelf of the smoker. I then added 5 large chunks of pecan and apple wood, which had been soaking in water for a couple hours.
I maintained a temperature of 210-220 for three hours. Internal meat temperature was 155. I moved the chickens to my gas grill, preheated to 350. Here, I brushed on some warm honey with a little orange zest added in (you could also use your favorite bbq sauce). I let this continue cooking for another half hour to crispen the skin and bring the chicken temperature up to 165, and then removed to a cutting board for 10 minutes before carving.
The chicken was tender and juicy. It had a big smokey taste, along with some orange, and a little spice from the rub. For this dinner, I used a dry rub purchased at Gates BBQ, Kansas City. It’s easy to make your own though, and I highly recommend Alton Brown’s recipe.
The smoker, chimney starter and wood chunks were all purchased at Bourlier’s BBQ in Ferndale, a third-generation family business that offers expert advice, great prices and friendly service. Keep it local!
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