So today i decided to take a run at chicken leg quarters but I wanted to go a smidge healthier and go sans skin. Also to get skin nice and crispy in a smoker is harder to do and i dont think smoked chicken skin looks particularly appealing. I should preface this with the fact that im using a vertical propane smoker that best case temp is 300 so getting that crispy skin temp is really not an option when using strictly my smoker. So here was my process I used to get some top notch chicken.
First I brined for about 12 hours. Here is the brine i used:
1 cup of salt
1 cup of brown sugar
2 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs paprika
After the brine was done i put the chicken on some wax paper to drip dry for about an hour. That is when the chick mad science began. Rather then just remove the skin, I pealed it back all the way to the tip of the drum stick and exposed all the meat. Then i trimmed most of the excess fat off the chicken, sprayed the meat with a light coat of olive oil and used a standard Memphis style rub.
I let the rub sit on the chicken just like that for 2-3 hours to let the rub adhere nicely to the chicken. Then i carefully took the skin and wrapped the quarters back up trying to not drag the skin over the meat as to no clump up the rub.
I made the decision, in an effort to keep max moisture in the meat and not over smoke the meat, id cook the chicken partially with it re skinned. So i lubed up a grate and put the chicken on it skin side down.
Now i got my smoker going. The wood i was going with was a mixture of 2/3 cherry and 1/3 hickory. I like the hickory flavor a lot but its easy to overdue the hickory and give it an off putting taste. So ive got in the habit of cutting my hickory with cherry as i feel cherry gives a nice non descriptive smoke flavor that can give you that nice smoke ring and smoke taste with out overpowering the meat. For the onset i used only a small amount of chips as with the skin covering the meat it was only going to take in so much smoke and there didnt seem to be much sense in going all in on the smoke for no reason. So i put the chicken in for about 90 minutes at around 300 deg. At which point I took the chicken out, removed the skins, and re applied some olive oil and a light dusting of the rub.
Now i flipped my chicken to bone side down and then i put in a heavy dose of the same mixture of wood and back into the smoker it went at 300 for another 60 minutes. After the 60 minutes was up I mixed up a mop solution i like for chicken as follows:
2 cups water
1 cup Heinz cider vinegar
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs salt
those measurements are very rough. its not really measured out as much as mixed to taste. For chicken this mop gives it a nice golden color, great taste, and nicely hydrates the meat. And ive found this solution to work well with or without skin. From here on out I was going to cook the chicken for 60 more minutes, for a total cook time of 3 1/2 hours. But the last 60 minutes was going to be at about 200-220 and all about flavor. So every 15 minutes for the last hour I coated the meat with the mop solution and also for the last hour I added 1 gallon of water to my trough inside the smoker to really moisten the meat up. Normally for long smokes ill keep the water trough filled most of the time but for a quick smoke like this i wanted max heat and a good smoke ring and decent chicken bark.
Here is the finish product
and to give you an idea of the quality of the meat here is a cross section.
This turned out to be probably some of the best quality chicken ive made on my smoker to date. I was nervous about the no skin but the way i did it, it turned out flawless.