No clue what they've done to chickens anymore (and probably don't want to), but they're undoubtedly some kind of Bruce Banner-like experiment. This one was 9 lbs including the giblets.
Anyway, I promised a smoked beer can chicken for dinner. Never smoked a whole bird before - only ever turkey in the oven or deep fryer. Figured I'd give it a shot, knowing that there's always pizza as an escape plan.
Went with a simple brine overnight - loosely something like this:
1T onion powder
1T garlic powder
1T black pepper
1/2 gal water
My bowl was exactly big enough to hold the chicken and the brine just covering the meat...
I rinsed and dried the bird off for a few hours in the fridge, hit it with a light spray of olive oil cooking spray, and gave it a good rub of Old Bay seasoning inside and out.
Recycled an empty soda can, since the beer I used came in a bottle:
Put in the smoker (preheated to 325F) for 3 hours, applying 2 hours of Hickory smoke about 1/2 hour in.
Transferred bird to the oven in the house to finish at 325F. I was concerned that the bird was going to be jerky or worse when I pulled it out of the oven, but, as the second photo shows, it was really nice and juicy. From here, we foiled it and put it in a cooler to take to my father-in-law's for dinner. It was still plenty hot when I got to carving it up 45 minutes or an hour later.
Served up with some green beans, baked beans, baked red potatoes, and fresh bread... made for a really nice dinner. As I said above, the meat was surprisingly juicy. The brine and the old bay did little in the way of flavoring (we didn't eat the skin, where most of that stayed). There was enough hickory smoke flavor, however, that made for an excellent taste. Nobody reached for any condiment for the chicken, and that says something.
As I usually do, I think about how I'd do this next time, to improve upon it.
First off, I'll be modifying my Bradley smoker with a second heating element and recalibrating the Auber PID controller to properly handle the power. The smoker works fantastic for sausage, fish, and Canadian bacon, but hitting and maintaining the higher temps for main-course meats is asking too much. I have the parts, but haven't had the motivation to make the mod. This isn't really an issue with the meat, though... just an observation of the process of smoking with my current rig.
Second, I was happy with the flavor outcome, but was disappointed in the lack of impact of the seasonings. I'll spike up the brine and increase the time next go-around. I avoid the chicken skin always - kept it on because it keeps things moist, but we'll never eat it. I'll either depend on the brine or I'll inject the bird if I want more from the seasonings/rubs.