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Pink and tough

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I tried my first smoking of chicken leg quarters and they came out slightly pink and tough. It only took 2 hours for 10 pounds to reach 190° meat temp and smoker temp of 240°.  Is chicken suppose to be pink when smoked?  What made them tough? I kept water in the pan.

post #2 of 23
They were probably overcooked. Dark meat, legs and thighs only need to go to 175*, white meat like breasts 165*. I have seen pink chicken around the bone before and as long as it met the minimum temps and the juices ran clear then it should be fine. I also smoke chicken at a higher temp, 275* - 300*, it helps with get the skin crispy and cooks faster. Brining will also help with keeping it from drying out.
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 

This was a tint of pink though the meat, there was some red near the bone.  I took it out at 180° and it was bloody when poked with a fork. So I put it back in till it hit 190°.

Isn't the pan of water suppose to keep the food moist/tender?

post #4 of 23

Dark meat on chicken will be pink when smoked, just as Dave said.  


You say your meat was 180 and the juice was bloody when the meat was poked...I would say you should check the accuracy of your thermometer.  175 IT is DONE for chicken, 180 tops for the legs and thighs, which will have a pink tint because of the smoking process.


I always cook my chicken at 275 - 300.  It gets the skin crispy and cooks the meat faster.  


To check the accuracy of your meat thermometer, place it in an ice bath - it should read about 32*, then put it into boiling water - it should read approximately 212*.  If it's off you can allow for that when taking your meat temps or you can throw it away and buy a better one.


Undercooked chicken will be tough and so will overcooked chicken.  The water pan will maintain humidity in the smoke chamber but will not keep the food from overcooking or drying out.  It's always best to brine your poultry, you won't be sorry and you will find some awesome brine recipes on this site.  Just search poultry brine.  My favorite is the Slaughterhouse brine.


Good luck and let us know if you have more questions.,



post #5 of 23

I agree with Bill, I believe the thermometer used was inaccurate.  The one on my smoker is WAY off and I rely on my Maverick thermos to keep me in good shape..


Keep trying and keep making sure they are correct.  If not, throw them out, your family and friends don't need to get sick.


Good luck!

post #6 of 23

I agree check your thermo with the water boil test..

post #7 of 23

I would say the chicken was tough because of them being over cooked. Sometimes the marrow in chicken seeps through the bones and makes the chicken appear bloody or under cooked. This has happened to me before. 

It may not be appealing but it is safe to eat.grilling_smilie.gif Hope this helps!

post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 

So running the smoker at 240° gave the meat time to dry out?

I have no clue if the meat thermometer is accurate, it's one of those dial types that have been laying around. I'll get an ET73, it seems to have reviewed well here.

post #9 of 23
Originally Posted by Mavrik View Post

This was a tint of pink though the meat, there was some red near the bone.  I took it out at 180° and it was bloody when poked with a fork. So I put it back in till it hit 190°.

Isn't the pan of water suppose to keep the food moist/tender?

Check your thermometer to see if it is reading correctly....   put in boiling water and it should read about 212 deg F....    If it does not read correctly, get a new therm....  meat internal temps is a safety issue....  If your smoker temp is off, make a "cheat sheet"... if it reads 240 in boiling water, you know your smoker is running cold... get the smoker up to 240 on the therm for a cooking temp of 212... or get a new therm for the smoker also.....   

I use water for smoking at smoker temps below 180.... I remove the water above that temp....   I figure any moisture on the outer portion of the meat will be "pushed into the meat" at higher temps from the outer layer heating up....  that is why the "rest period" from a hot oven... 

Notice a steak cooking on the grill... moisture moves away from the heat to the upper surface....  flip the steak and the moisture moves back to the center of the steak...   I have no idea if my theory is correct...  Seems to work on brisket.... I followed forluvofsmoke's brisket technique and it was a really moist brisket....   I have brined chicken to add moisture.... seems to work, although I think it dilutes the chicken flavor....  brining in chicken stock brings back some of the flavor....   

You will find dozens of ways folks cook meats....    an accurate therm is a very good place to start to get moist, tender meats....   then start altering methods and seasonings for your personal tastes....


Someone help me out here..... One more thing.... I think the age of the chicken has something to do with "bone color".... young birds, the bone may not be fully developed and still have a "reddish color"...   Don't know for sure... 

post #10 of 23

Mavric, Your chicken was over cooked and the red you saw was a protein liquid called myoglobin - It's not blood.  Take your chicken temperature to internal temperature to 165° and it will be done.  You will tend to see more pink and red around younger, cured and smoked birds.



Edited by Mr T 59874 - 6/10/13 at 6:18am
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

OK, it's looking more and more like a newbie error. I though it was blood and overcooked it, making it tough.

post #12 of 23

The guys are right on the money about your thermometer. Check it for accuracy or purchase a new one of known good quality.


Using a water pan doesn't really do anything for keeping your BBQ moist. This is a common misconception. What the water pan does do is maintain your smoke chamber temp. Heating the water to a boil takes lot of energy (180 BTU's for a pound of water)....turning it to steam takes much more energy than bringing the water to a boil. Roughly 970 BTU's to turn that same pound of water to steam. This is called the latent heat of vaporization. Water is very efficient at absorbing heat. Working at a coal fired power plant has taught me much about boiling water....lol


I pull my chicken and turkey when they hit 165 and they keep cooking for a while after they are taken off the smoker. Temp ends up around 170-175...plenty good. A good rest is a must but at 190 degrees no amount of resting is going to get that moisture back.

post #13 of 23
Overdone is correct. You do not need to brine, spritz, or have a water pan to get great results on chicken. Having an accurate therm is a must though.

post #14 of 23

By request, I have deleted this post.

Edited by JP61 - 6/10/13 at 10:22am
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
The pan of water sounds like a waste of money then, I thought it was to help moisten the food. The manual that came with the smoker says chicken needs to be 180°. My dial thermometer says 190°. You guys and the gov say 165° http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html The manual and thermo sure didn't help this newbie, I seriously overcooked this chicken.
post #16 of 23
Originally Posted by Mavrik View Post

The pan of water sounds like a waste of money then, I thought it was to help moisten the food.


Nah, ya still need it. Without it your temps would really take off. There are alternatives though. I use sand in my water pan covered with foil.....Water is kind of a pain to clean up in my opinion.


The cut and grade of the meat has much more to do with how juicy it is than anything evaporating in the smoke chamber.

post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 

That is the nice thing with propane, it's adjustable.  If still too hot, one can simply block burner ports. Much more cost effective than adding more load to lower the temp.

post #18 of 23
Mavrick,  I am curious as to how you are blocking the ports.



Edited by Mr T 59874 - 6/10/13 at 12:17pm
post #19 of 23

By request, I have deleted this post.

Edited by JP61 - 6/10/13 at 10:22am
post #20 of 23

There are other things affecting color too.


On bones, if the chicken was semi to fully frozen, it causes the bones to turn color from purple to black.  Even a hard chill can do that (hard chill refers to bringing the temp down to 31° - 32° and holding it there for extended shelf life and transportation.).  Hard frozen chicken does that also - when you get down to the bones, if they're black, the bird has been frozen and thawed.  Of course, freezing bursts cell walls from ice buildup and the meat purges - liquid drains out.  That contributes to dryness; moisture cannot be held in.


When a chicken is killed, the blood must drain out.  It is quite common for the blood to pool in the joints and can cause a pinking of the meat.  Also, chickens go through a bath - chicken soup - and sodium is added, much like curing, and that can cause pinking also.  Combination of blood and frozen/thawed causes many of the conditions noted.  


And, of course, get good therms so your knowledge of the meat temps is accurate.

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