In the very near future, I plan to smoke my very first spatchcocked turkey. I decided to do a test smoke on chicken parts (1 boneless, skinless breast and 3 thighs) to make sure I was happy with the brine and rub. I would feel a whole lot worse if I ruined a whole turkey rather than a chicken breast.
Miss Linda makes a French Canadian/Acadian tourtiere style 3 meat stuffing for her turkeys that I absolutely love. I figured that brining the turkey in those flavors would, hopefully, lend that exact flavor to the entire turkey.
Well, I guess I’m about to find out.
Since I had absolutely no idea how much ground spice to use in the brine, I sent a PM to JJ. His reply was, as always, prompt, thorough, extremely informative, and even contained directions for making the brine.
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
½ tsp cloves
Mix the spices in 1 quart of water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and steep for 15 minutes. Cool to room temp and add 1 quart of cold water. Then mix in the other ingredients.
So, to this Tea I added:
1/6 cup Kosher Salt
1/6 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 tsp each of granulated garlic and onion powder
1 quart of cold water
The trimmed chicken parts were placed in a gallon ziplock bag and the brine pored over them. The brine was a very dark brown color—dark enough that it was almost impossible to see the meat in the bag. Then into the fridge for 24 hours.
The next day (that would be today) I fired up the MES and set it at 250*. I loaded up the AMNPS with 50% Pitmaster Choice and 50% Cherry pellets and got it burning nicely. While I was waiting, I rinsed the meat VERY well, patted it dry, and applied a simple SPOG rub. That little piece in the corner is a "tester" for the cook.
I had planned to start cooking the chicken at about 2 PM, but work got in the way—I had to go and check how the repairs were coming along on my Freightliner. As it turned out, it was 4 PM by the time the meat went into the smoker, but as I was cooking only for myself, time really wasn’t a factor.
Almost immediately, the AMNPS started giving me trouble--again. It would work just great as long as the MES door was open, but would stop smoking almost at the sound of the door closing. It was pretty obvious the problem was a lack of fresh air, but I had the chip loader removed and the tray pulled out as far as it would go. After the third attempt to keep it burning, I abandoned the AMNPS completely. For the rest of the smoke, I fed pellets into the MES chip tray—that was a real PITA, but it worked just fine. The AMNPS??? It is on suspension until I do a mailbox mod. Then we'll see. It will either work perfectly or it will become a bird feeder.
The MES performed fine, as usual. The temperature, although set at 250*, bounced between 230 and 268, as usual.
At 4:05 PM the IT of the breast hit 165*, and I pulled the chicken out of the smoker—total cook time was 2 hours and 5 minutes. The meat had good color, a nice crust, and smelled great.
When I cut into the breast, I was amazed at how moist and tender the meat was. This was, without doubt, the tenderest chicken breast I have ever eaten—you could literally have cut it with a plastic fork!!
What really surprised and disappointed me was just how little flavor from the spices in the brine actually penetrated into the meat. Almost none. The outside of the breast was very tasty, but until I added salt and pepper, the inner meat was quite plain. Plain--as in no spice flavor at all. It just tasted like…………well, like chicken.
Overall, the experiment was a success. The chicken was juicy, unbelievably tender, cooked perfectly, and, for a “plain” chicken breast, delicious. I will definitely do chicken pieces again and a turkey using this method, but I will be changing the brine to something different. I’m not, at this moment, sure what brine I’ll be using—gonna have to think about that for a while.
Thanks for looking.