I have been reading a lot of posts lately about folks asking what temps to cook their chicken at, I have always said 225° - 250° and most folks prefer 300° to 325°. The general consensus is that the skin will crisp up better. If I want to cook at the higher temps, I'll use my grill and cook over direct heat.
Many of these post just state what they cook at, temperature wise, usually the smoker being used or method is not mentioned.
I always say do them at 225° - 250° and don’t worry about the Internal going above 165° on Thighs and Drums.
My reason for this is that the fat renders from the skin giving you that crispy paper type skin.
Everyone has their preferred method, I just want to make sure I am not misinforming anyone.
So I set out to confirm what I have been posting.
Before I get into this post I do want to mention that there was an unforeseen problem with this test and I will need to repeat it again.
The unforeseen problem was that I was making apple butter in a Dutch oven during the test and as you will see from some of the photos the placement of the Dutch oven was a bad choice for this chicken test, however I did come to a conclusion.
All this was done on a Reverse Flow using wood as fuel, White ash and cherry, no wind ambient temperature was about 75° low humidity.
I have the pics after the post.
I took a flat of Thighs and a flat of drums and split each flat in half, each half was seasoned as follows, these thighs were huge.
First Batch was slathered with the following
- Olive Oil
The second batch was as follows
- My Pork Rub dry
They were then placed on the Reverse flow alternating each row. Smoked at 225° using white ash for several hours followed by cherry.
After 2 hours the drums with the rub could be eaten the skin was starting to crisp up nicely, the thighs on both still had very fatty skin and the drums were fatty but not as much as the slathered thighs.
I broke it down as follows for easier explanation
2 hours in:
- Dry Rub Drums - Acceptable skin
- Slathered Drums - Unacceptable skin slightly fatty
- Dry Rub Thighs - Unacceptable skin slightly fatty
- Slathered Thighs - Unacceptable skin very fatty
3 hours in:
- Dry Rub Drums - Skin was not fatty, most of the fat was rendered, clean bite
- Slathered Drums - Acceptable skin
- Dry Rub Thighs - Acceptable skin with some fatty areas
- Slathered Thighs - Unacceptable slightly fatty
Now I don’t really like going over 3 hours but due to the fact of the placement of the Dutch oven, I had to.
4 hours in:
- Dry Rub Drums - Skin was awesome, bites are clean into skin
- Slathered Drums - Skin was awesome, bites are clean into skin
- Dry Rub Thighs - Skin was awesome, bites are clean into skin with little fatty areas
- Slathered Thighs - Acceptable skin
But as I mentioned before, these results were skewed because of the Dutch oven placement however it does give me an answer to the crisp/fatty skin dilemma.
After I removed the Dutch oven the temps in the chamber jumped 50°, the DO was really affecting the air flow and it didn’t dawn on me until I remove the DO and the temp jumped and the chicken was starting to sizzle.
Four hours is a bit too long especially for the drums.
As far as the flavor goes the slather really, really permeated into the whole piece of chicken, but I prefer the rub.
The texture of the meat was ok after 4 hours but better at the 3 hour mark.
I am sure if the DO was not hindering air flow, that the skins on all 4 would be acceptable or above acceptable after 3 hours.
A few things folks could try is to:
- Use a dry rub as opposed to a slather or oil.
- Trim the really fatty skin off the thigh before smoking.
- Deep fry the thighs and drums first
- Cook at higher temps, I like the idea of cooking at 225° to 250° because that way I can cook multiple things at once, If I want to cook my chicken at 325° I’ll just toss it on the grill.
- After smoking crisp up skin on a grill.
- Deep fry after smoking
- Broil in the oven
- Remove thigh skin and pan fry
- For RF users, Place skin side down on the reverse flow plate after 1 hour till the skin crisps up, just make sure your RF plate is clean.
I just wanted to make sure my posts were accurate and that what I am posting does not steer a fellow SMF in the wrong direction. Its easy for someone to have a successful cook and can’t remember the exact method, temps or times then make an uninformed post.
I was getting so paranoid that I was missing something because I seem to be the odd man out.
Experiment for yourself and see what works for you, hope this helps someone!
Now for the pictures:
Dry Rub and Slather.
Ok everything is ready, time to feed frank.
Notice the Dutch oven, its sitting directly on the Reverse flow plate, restricting the flow under the chicken.
The heat is traveling over top of the DO and directly out of the stack, I had a raging fire with all vents open and I topped out at 250°, that should have been my first sign something was wrong.
Oh by the way that's apple butter in the DO, I will be posting that later.
The Sun was in a bad position for photographs.
This thigh and drum (rubbed) were pulled after 3 hours, the loin was pulled at 142° (2 hours 10 minutes) wrapped in foil and towels with a half hour rest and topped with hot apple butter. I'll throw in a quick pick of the loin at the end of the post.
Hers a couple Loin posts, I will start a thread for the Loin later.