I haven't used my MES since the end of last year. It's been too long.
So, yesterday I picked up four slightly-less-than-5-lb whole chickens. I didn't have enough salt to do a brine last night and it was too late to go back and get it. The birds waited until today. I could only find space in the garage refrigerator for 2 birds in brine; so I need to know if you think it will be OK to brine the other two birds tomorrow. (I don't think the birds were ever frozen and the transit time from store to fridge was less than 20 minutes.) The birds were individually wrapped in what appeared to be air-tight plastic packaging. There was no leaking as you would expect from store wrapped birds.
I plan to smoke tomorrow using the BUBA approach (beer up a birds a......). I have 4 racks and I bought some Coors. I need a reality check on my process and approach.
First, I cleaned the birds by pulling out the gizzard, heart and neck - had to cut the neck bone to get it out. I then pulled and pared off all the excess fat and washed the birds in running water until I felt like they were thoroughly rinsed. Before starting on the birds, I put a gallon of water on the stove to warm enough to fully dissolve a cup of Morton's Kosher salt. I used only low heat and just enough to get the salt into solution.
After both birds were thoroughly washed and the salt water was ready, I put them in a 2 gallon double ziploc and put all the water in with them. I had pulled the skin away from the meat while washing to allow as much contact with the water as possible. There was only a very little space left. I then put the sealed bag in a plastic tray just large enough to hold the bag and birds. The tray is about as deep as the refrigerator shelf, about 2/3's as wide and about 5-6 inches deep. It has a plastic top with to click to close gizmos on it. I put the whole shebang into the fridge in the garage. I put all the results of the cleaning in a plastic bag, then in another and then in a ziploc and put it in the fridge to wait until the day the pick up the trash. I don't want to attract anything to the trash cans. I then cleaned up the whole kitchen sink area anywhere near where I had the raw chicken and sprayed it down with a bleach-based disinfecting spray (don't remember the name but it's in all the supermarkets).
???? If I leave the birds in the fridge overnight, is that too much brining? Since I won't be able to smoke them tonight, should I pull them after some time (how much?) and rinse and bag in fresh ziplocs until I'm ready to put them in the MES tomorrow?
What I do with the other 2 birds will depend on the advice you give me. If I can do a relatively short brine soak (3-4 hours) on them, I can do all 4 birds with one heat of the smoker. ??????????
As for prepping the birds before putting them in the smoke, I will rinse them, of course, and rub them down with EVOO. Can you recommend a quick and easy rub???????? I thought that I would put a sprig of fresh rosemary in one, fresh thyme the other and maybe fresh basil in another just to see if there the spices in the beer make any difference. Good idea? Bad? Anything else I should put in the beer? (I plan to put about a third of each can in me before sacrificing the remainder to the birds.)
????? What smoke? I have pellets and the wonder tray. I think I have oak, mesquite, pecan and a mixture. Haven't checked yet but I know I didn't use nearly all of it doing the butts and other goodies that I did for darling daughter's out of town wedding guests.
???? How long should I expect it to take??????? What temp should I set the smoker for????? I have probes to tell me when I get there but it would be nice to have some idea.
????? I decided to try 4 birds at once to get practice cooking in greater volumes than the wife and I would normally consume so that I can be ready for larger groups. I know that we will not eat 4 birds at one sitting and probably not over a week or ten days. This leads to the question about how to handle and store the excess after it's smoked. I figured on wrapping them in Saran wrap and putting them in ziplocs and putting them in the freezer. Good idea???? Bad???? Remember that these will be cooked birds.
I know this is a long-winded and presumptuous post. I apologize if it offends. I DID use the search feature and read many recent posts in the Poultry forum. I didn't find answers to all my questions in one place; so I decided to try to make a comprehensive list of questions in hopes that some future smoker will find your answers all in one place.
Oh, yes! I'll try to remember to get some pics for a results post later, too. Thanks for your patience and "Bless You!" if you stuck with all the way here!