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Question about chicken

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

So I don't have my smoker built yet but I was super antsy to get into the game already so I took some Chicken thighs out of the freezer and defrosted. I then put them in a simple salt brine with some pepper and honey to boot in it. My net was off so I couldn't get on here to ask for help. I took the small round hibachi I have and used a small amount of charcoal and put on the far side of the unit. I then took a few chunks of apple wood and put on and put lid on. The chicken sat in brine for about an hour and then was rinsed and dried. Ib used some simple seasoning for chicken I had and rubbed on bird. 


They smoked for about 3 hours before they looked done and I pulled off and let rest. The issue I had was that it had a bit of a bitter taste and the skin was almost the color of burnt but not burnt. The meat was moist and fell apart easy but the skin and meat were both super salty. Where did I go wrong? I used about a 1/2 cup of pink sea salt to a big mixing bowl full of water. I didn't have any sauce cause the wife and I both wanted to taste nothing but the smoke and spices the first go around. I am not sure if it was the chicken spice I had or if it was my brine. Like i said didn't have net to be able to get online and ask for help or do search. I don't have pics either. I was wondering if maybe the bitter was that I put too much wood and didn't foil them after an hour or so. Any advice would be great and hoping I can finish getting the stuff for my smoker build. 






post #2 of 13
Just my 2 cents here, but if your brine was salty you might try lookin up Tip's Salughterhouse Brine. I use this brine all the time & it makes real tasty & moist bird parts.

What temp did ya cook the chicken ? Not familiar with your grill, but it also seems to me that the your grill maybe lacking good airflow, that would cause the bitter taste... Maybe a bit of creosote on your chicken.

Also, I'd suggest picking up a good thermometer to cook to internal temp if ya don't already have one.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

I will have to check into getting one. The unit I am using is a small round charcoal table top grill about 15" maybe smaller round. I know it isn't what I should use but like previously said i don't have my unit built and was antsy lol

post #4 of 13

It doesn't seem to me that 1 hour in a brine, no matter how salty it was would make you chicken that salty inside. Especially if you rinsed it well. I'm thinking the rub was too salty & maybe you used too much of it. 


As for the bitter taste. Was there a top vent in the grill to let the smoke out? There should be some way to keep the smoke circulating thru the smoker then out the top.

If there was a vent, was the smoke thick white smoke? That would be bad.

Thin blue smoke, barely visible is what you are looking for.

A photo of your grill would be helpful.



post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

I will try and take a pic of my sad little grill tonight and yes there are vents on top and i had them open and on the opposite side of the hot coals and wood. and the smoke was white. Will too much wood cause the smoke to be white? as far as the salty goes I am thinking the same thing about the rub considering it is store bought and a lot of stuff i am now starting to read say the store bought stuff is loaded with salt.

post #6 of 13
A good simple run to use is SPOG. Salt Pepper Onion powder Garlic powder. I don't measure amounts I just shake on what looks good.

I don't brine chicken. It's not needed to add moisture, but I can enhance flavor. A properly cooked chicken will always be moist.

Read up on spatchcocking. Itn my opinion it's the best way to cook poultry.

As for the bitter taste if you had white smoke that's probably the cause. Too much wood or wet wood can be the cause of that.

It's really easy to over cook chicken. You need to cook it to temp. The safe cook temp is 165. A good therm is all you need. Look at getting a Thermowand from Lavatools. Amazon has them for $25, free shipping for prime members. Another good option would be a Maverick dual probe 732 or 733 or iGrill2 4 probe. These allow you to monitor our temps and meat temps.


Your grill sounds like a good candidate to turn into a mini-WSM. Check out the Mini-WSM sub forum.

post #7 of 13

Good advise above. I use Pops brine cure, with or without the cure as the basis for all my brines. I make a salt, sugar, sugar brine and then add the tastes I want to try on the meat. 


For instance, I just put a chicken in a brine/cure. It is 1/2 to 1 to 1 (canning salt, brown sugar, white sugar). Once you have the ratio, then just adjust it for the quantity.


To me the bitter taste and dark colored skin sounds like over smoking with a hard smoke. There are light woods and heavy woods as to smoke flavor. You can use any wood, but you then have to control the quantity of smoke for it to remain pleasant to eat. Sure you can smoke chicken with mesquite, oak, and hickory, if you use a very very light hand while loading.


Try cutting back sizably on smoke, use lighter woods like nuts and fruits and not try to apply smoke the entire time in the smoker. Try a little first then add more next time. Keep notes!


I most highly recommend starting out you do a nekkid chicken, why? Because it lets you taste what chicken tasted like, it sets a base line to build from. Brines, injections, mops, marinades, cures, etc etc etc all the modifiers, you should establish a base line and then start your adventures into the enhancers.


You smoke a proper nekkid chicken and its really hard to top it with any modifier. 


Cut back on your smoke, use lighter woods, and try smoking just a chicken. I think you'll be really happy with the end result.


Heres a Nekkid Chicken, as if you need to see one.



EDIT:: LOL... Yeah just what Case said....... (I type to slow)

post #8 of 13

Too much wood on too small a fire equals thick white smoke and dark bitter bird . A Half Cup of Sea Salt is enough for 1 to 1 1/2 Gallons of water. Using what sounds like A LOT less water plus a Salty Commercial Rub will definitely make for salty chicken, even with a 1 hour soak and rinse...JJ

post #9 of 13

I did this tonight, ok, its brined  but its still basic. it was smoked with one load in the MES30 chip tray.



220 degrees for I think almost 3 hours.  Its juicy, but not because of the brine, Its delicious, I dusted the cavity with some rosemary, thyme & sage. You can barely taste 'em though. Remember just because something is possible, it doesn't mean that you should do it. Minimalistic! The pecan is from pecan shells, not chips, chunks, splits or pellets.


They come out pretty and delicious every time.


post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

That looks wonderful. I haven't had time yet to try my hand at it again, but when I do I will take pics. been busy working OT at work. pecan shells?

post #11 of 13

I have a couple of pecan trees on the property. Pecan shells have the same smoke as the pecan wood as long as you get all the "meat" picked out of them. AND a renewable resource!


If you need any help.......

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Foamheart View Post

I have a couple of pecan trees on the property. Pecan shells have the same smoke as the pecan wood as long as you get all the "meat" picked out of them. AND a renewable resource!


If you need any help.......

That is super cool I did not know that. Is there any other type of shells you can use like that? And thank you all for the help. I have been making sure to write this stuff down too.

post #13 of 13

I don't know why you couldn't use any non-poisonous nut shell. But I have never tried any but Pecan.

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