Re: 3-2-1 Baby BacksYes, I have to say, my quality of everything has greatly risen since I've found this website (Even things I "knew" how to do already. As an added benefit, I've been able to cross over some off this knew found knowledge to other methods of cooking (in home stove, and direct grilling in a traditional weber). Knowledge is power.
As for my chickens......I don't think I've ever done it the same twice. Chicken is almost impossible to screw up, so I just kinda through things together.
I always brine poultry prior to smoking. The brine is usually simple. A cup or two of salt, a cup or two of brown sugar, some garlic cloves, some cayane pepper, black pepper, and whatever else I feel like throwing in that day. Chickens I like to brine for four hours. Turkey breast (my favorite) about 8 hours, and a whole turkey overnight.
After brining, I rinse the meat off, dry it off, and throw some seasoning on the outside and the inside cavity. Last time I had some extra Jeff's Naked Rib rub leftover from the ribs, so I coated the chicken in that. Lemmon pepper is good, cajun is good, greek seasoning is terrific. I then let the chicken sit for about 1/2 hour with the seasoning on it. Place it in the smoker for about 4 hours for a single chikcen, 5-6 hours for two chickens (I check temperature), and that's about it. The only thing I have to say that really affects it is the wood type. For chicken I use only fresh apple wood. Pear and cherry are also good, but apple is my favorite. Nut woods are a little to "harsh" for poultry, IMHO. I have a couple farmer buddies who get me all the fruit and nut woods I need for free. Store bought wood is always way to dry for smoking, it has to be fresh wood. Even then I soak it in water for a couple hours prior. I cut pieces 3-4 inches in diameter, 3-4 inches in length.
For a smoke, I use a cheap red bullet type smoker. The $60 type they sell at home depot. My dad threw it away, because he didn't have any success with it (or the patience). The secret to getting it to work really well, is to fill the water pan full with clean kiln dried sand instead of water. Cover it, so the drippings don't get in the sand and you can reuse it. If you want to use a water pan also, place a pan of water on top of the sand. All the sand is a buffer to control heat. It takes the highs/lows out, and it sits at a comfortable 210-240 depending on how much wood I have in it. Very easy to control, and very consistent.
The second mod I had to do to keep the heat even is to insulate the smoker. I glued industrial felt all around mine to keep the heat in durring cold weather (I live in NE wisconsin). This works great. Before I couldn't keep the heat in it, and I could hardly use it if it was below 30 degrees. The other day I used when it was zero out with no problems. And of course, if it's windy, I need to use a some sort of windblock.
I think that's about it on that.