Chicken: What am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by millerk0486, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. millerk0486

    millerk0486 Meat Mopper

    I am looking for advice in smoking chicken, most specifically chicken thighs. I have tried smoking them twice and the results have been sub par.

    I smoked them with my WSM, prepped them with a brine, applied a smokey sweet rub and wrapped the skin around the meat and secured the skin with a shortened bamboo skewer.

    The brine consisted of Sprite, Apple Cider, Fine Sea Salt, Pepper and water. The chicken soaked in the brine for almost 3 hours this time and several hours longer the time before. After the chicken soaked, I patted dry the chicken and applied the rub to chicken, then threw them on the smoker.

    My smoker, I maintained a temp around 225°F. I added mesquite wood chips about every half hour and smoked the chicken for about 2 hours. Then I removed the chicken, sauced them and put them back for another 15-30 min.

    The results were an almost rubbery skin, where when you bit into it, all of the skin would come off. The meat was moist, but had a salty taste, almost like ham or a smoked turkey leg you get at the fair.

    What I want is a chicken meat that isn't salty and a crisper or easy to bite thru skin.

    Also, I would like to know if anyone submits their chicken thighs in competitions with only the rub or is it a general practice to always serve them sauced?

    Thank you in advance for the help!
  2. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Do you have a charcoal grill? I never brine, salt& pepper..smoke 250ish to 165. Then I sear directly over coals setting my home made sauce.

    Taking about a crowd pleaser!!! EVERYONE raves over how good it is.
  3. millerk0486

    millerk0486 Meat Mopper

    No, I do not have a charcoal grill. I do have a gas one, but I guess I could remove the water pan from the smoker for the last 15 minutes and give the chicken a more direct source of heat for the last part.

    I will take your advice of the no brine on the next batch I try. I will do half of them with the brine and the other half without.

    Also, does anyone have any other suggestions for wood flavors? I'm not a fan for mesquite.
  4. Miller

    If it is to salty leave the salt out.

    You will never get crispy skin at 225° Kick the heat on up say 275° for most of the smoke. Then at the end Kick it up to 325°-350°

    The only reason to cook chicken low and slow is to get more time in the smoke.

    To sauce or not to sauce is like FORD OR CHEVY!

    Happy smoken.

  5. pintocrazy

    pintocrazy Smoke Blower

    Wood flavors I enjoy for chicken personally, are a mix of pecan and cherry or apple.
  6. millerk0486

    millerk0486 Meat Mopper

    Thank you for the advice mule, I will try the higher temps!
  7. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Pick up a kettle long as you can get your grate right over the coals you'll be good. Something about fire kissed chicken and the taste of charcoal.

    Hickory,oak, cherry, Apple, pecan all good...I have Mulberry trees...Great wood to use.
  8. millerk0486

    millerk0486 Meat Mopper

    Pinto, do you mix those three woods evenly? My wife has been asking me to give pecan a try. Is pecan light like apple wood smoke?
  9. millerk0486

    millerk0486 Meat Mopper

    I will need to invest in a small kettle grill. I have been wanting one, and could have used one in a recent rib competition. My smoker temp dropped lower than what i wanted and I didn't have enough time to kick it back up in the end. A charcoal grill could have been a quick fix
  10. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    if I had a dime for every time I smoked and then seared or seared and then smoked I'd have lots of dimes!

    Kettles are a must have tool
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013
  11. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Build a mini-wsm and get the best of both worlds!
  12. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

  13. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Many good suggestions so I wont be redundant.

    One thing about the skin, you can remove the skin, scrape the excess fat and trim the heavy fat along the edges then re wrap the thighs.

    I just trim the excess fat on the sides and pull tight, and wrap the thighs and tuck.

    These were grilled but wanted to show how they were prepped.

  14. ats32

    ats32 Smoking Fanatic

    It's a chicken thigh so there is enough fat for moisture. Don't brine, don't use a water pan, and cook/smoke fast at 300F for crispy skin with just enough smoke flavor.
  15. [​IMG]
  16. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Unless you do what  i do when you reverse sear it with sauce....because the sear at the end will crisp it.  
  17. pintocrazy

    pintocrazy Smoke Blower

    Yah pecan I find fairly light . I will mix pecan with either cherry or apple.
  18. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    you said you have a gas grill.. just use that for the searing of the skin (have it pre-heated when your chicken gets to 160`).... as for the salty taste.. when you brine with salt you should add the same amount of sugar as you did salt... you said you used fine sea salt... how much salt did you use ? I use kosher salt (1 cup to 1 gallon of liquid).. the difference is kosher is coarse.. so If I were to compare 1 cup of kosher to 1 cup of fine sea salt.. the sea salt would equal to about 1 1/2 cups of the kosher being that it's fine and you will get more salt in 1 cup compared to the coarse of kosher.... Also... when taken out of the brine be sure to rinse real well with fresh water to get all the salt residue off..... Yes, pecan is a lighter smoke like apple.. actually pecan is my favorite wood to use...
  19. I've run into this so here's what I did:  remove the middle section, move the food grill onto the charcoal ring, and place the lid back on.  I would post a photo but can't.  I'd post a link but can't.  Sure makes it tough to help a guy with an issue I've dealt with in the past.  ...which is kinda the point isn't it?!?!
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013

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