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Chicken: My New Frontier!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Next weekend I will be smoking chickens for the first time. I've got some questions as well as some ideas I want to run by everyone. I will try to keep it short and simple.

BRINE: I'm going to be smoking two chickens. I want to brine one of them. I'm going to use a standard brine. Is it a good idea to put the rub seasoning into the brine mixture to help flavor the chicken?

SMOKING: The brined chicken will be done as a beer can chicken. I have a beer can stand. The other chicken will be placed on the grill. Should the chicken on the grill be placed breast down?

During the cooking process should I be using something to help keep the chicken moist?

COALS: I'm using lump charcoal for the first time. Anything I should be aware of with the lump? Can I mix the lump with regular Kingsford briquettes? Should I attempt the Minion method?

BY THE WAYS: I will be doing this on an old New Braunfelds horizontal smoker with fire box.

Thanks in advance for everyones help and advice.

post #2 of 10

Hi Quagmire38.


I'm no expert here - actually just a noob -, though I'm trying to learn from my mistakes. I just thought I'd share my experience.  I did a chicken for my first foray into smoking.  I use an electric smoker - the Bradley Digital 4 rack.

I'm writing this from memory.  I've decided to start logging my stuff from now on to help me remember...  The memory banks are getting a little funny these days!


I put on a rub of paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. I made sure I got the rub on well, including under the skin of the breast and thighs.  I can't see why it would be a problem to add some of the rub to the brine. 


I used a beer can stand.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a beer nearby, so substituted with a coke can filled with water.


My biggest mistake was not allowing the smoker to come up to temperature first.  I just threw the chicken on the rack and let her rip.  Bad mistake.  It took forever for the box to come up to cooking temp.  I smoked that bird for about 5 hours and it still wasn't done - though it looked and smelled awesome.  I had to use my grilling thermometer (digital meat fork looking thing).  I guess it's pretty inaccurate because  I had to throw it on the grill to finish it after calling everyone to dinner.  I grilled it breast side down.  That kinda sucked.  Better that than poisoning my family with uncooked poultry I guess...


Anyway, good luck.

post #3 of 10

i don't know how much you've used the smoker, but i have the newer, Char-Broil version of the New Braunfels, and the thermometer in the lid is wildly inaccurate.   i've been told this is fairly common (at least in these new models)


it might be a good idea to put an oven thermometer on the racks if you have any doubt on the reliability of the lid mounted thermometer


i just started using lump and it's way easier to maintain a consistent heat for much longer periods of time that with briquettes.  you can mix them, but i think it's a waste of the briquettes b/c they burn up a lot faster hanging around the hotter lump charcoal.


that's my experience, anyway


best of luck to you

post #4 of 10

You can put rub in brine, it won't hurt. However you want to wash the bird well after you brine to get the excess salt off, after that reapply the rub. I usually start them breast down and finish breast up. I dont understand mixing coals and lump unless your trying to finish off a bag, shouldn't hurt. Yes on the minion method, it's a great way to smoke. One other thing is stay away from lighter fluid, get yourself a chimney.

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Whats up everyone. thanks for your responses and help. so heres what I'm going to do... I'm going to add some of the rub along with some beer to the brine. We shall see how that turns out. i am only going to use the lump charcoal. also going to try attempt the minion method. Since I started smoking I have not used lighter fluid at all. I do have a chimney.  Its a great invention. My smoker does not have a built in thermometer so i use a digital probe thermometer. 

post #6 of 10

I just did four birds in my smoker last Sat and this is my method. I buy young birds and spatchcock them suckers so they will cook faster, and it is easier to brine them. I inject them with some apple juice with a little kosher salt and maple syrup then soak them in the same for 12-24 hours. I get my smoker up to 325 before I put the birds in with indirect heat and cook them to 161 degrees in the thick part of the breast. You want to cook poultry faster than pork because it is lean and cooking low and slow will dry it out. I always cook them on their back after removing the backbone (spatchcocking) them. It doesn't take very long to cook them and I use a smoking wood like apple. Poultry takes smoke in pretty fast and you can get too much smoke in them if you use a wood like oak. Fruit woods work well. I usually eat about half a bird while picking the meat off. It's hard not too. I sometimes use some seasoning like habanaro or what ever else sounds good however I have found that you don't taste much of that later if you freeze them, which I do a lot of. If you are eating them right away you will taste more of the seasoning.

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 

Whats up fellas. Well today is smoke day or saturday to most folks. Here is where I am. I have three chickens. One whole for beer can chicken, and the other two are spatchcocked. All three are flavored differently. About the spatchcocked chickens... do I start them breast side down or the opposite way? Most videos I've seen they start breast side up and just leave them that way. Im sure they are edited for time. Well Im excited and ready to smoke. Thanks for all the help and advice. 

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

I'm back from the chicken smoking.Things did not go so well but it turned out good. So where did I go wrong?

Things started smoothly. I used the minion method. I laid down a layer of lump charcoal in the fire box. Then got a chimney full of lump fired up. whipped out my thermometer and let things go. Once again I couldnt get the heat up as desired. the hottest it got was 311 degrees. So I added another chimney full. the heat rose to about 315 degrees then proceeded to go up and down. So i figured that my thermometer wasn't worrking properly. So I figured it had to be hot enough. So I got the chickens on. The side damper was fully open. After an hour and a half I checked on the chickens. No real progress. WTF! So i dump another chimney on it. Still the thermometer was reading in the high 200 degrees. After some thought I removed one of the spatchcocked chickens and took it to the oven. I then lit a chimney full of regular kingsford briquettes and put them on the opposite side of the grill. So I had lump in the fire box and briquettes on the other side. After a few mins the thermometer begins to beep... 330degrees! Thank the Lord. After this the other spatchcock chicken and beer can chicken took off cooking. They turned out fantastic. Best chickens I have ever made.

Sooooooooo, what do you guys think went wrong with the heat? Sorry about the length of this post. Thanks for the help. Looking forward to everyones responses.

post #9 of 10

I don't see high 200's as a problem personally


I generally cook birds at around 240-275 degrees and they take around 3-4 hours depending on the average temperature that I hold. They are extremely juicy and tasty. I do brine for 3-4 hours in a ratio of 1 gallon of water:1 cup of kosher salt and that really helps with the juiciness.


Some folks do cook chicken really high to crisp the skin but I prefer to stay on the low end of high which is what you did for the most part and sounds like the end product was something well worth posting about.


Would sure like to see some pics of that tasty food..

post #10 of 10

Hey Quagmire38... I don't know your smoker so I don't know how air tight it is or what your vent situation is like. But, I would ask... was it windy when you were smoking? Or, even did it change from no wind to wind when you saw the temps kick up? I'm only asking because wind is a big enemy to smoking. Lots of people think of it making the fire hotter but it can also rob your smoker of heat. Someone will be buy with better advice than this though. 


Jeff is right, (Jeff is always right. Have you signed up for the free 5 day e-course? Totally worth your time! Also, have you bought his rub and sauce? Money well spent!!) those temps should have cooked the chicken just fine even if it wasn't what you were looking for. However, I'm reading the real question to be... "why couldn't I make my fire do what I wanted it to do?" I think I speak for all of us when I say... we've been there! I will say that the amount of charcoal you had to use for chicken seems crazy. I use the equivalent of two chimneys tops. The minion method is great for long smokes but I wouldn't think it's necessary with birds IMHO. Just light one full chimney. Throw that in the smoker and let the temps even out. Then, in with the birds and at the same time in with two or three pieces of lump. Thirty minutes later... two or three more pieces... repeat that two or three times and viola... you should have perfectly smoked birds... Oh... I just had another thought... are you using a water pan? That can make it hard to get temps up to 300+ and keep them there.


Lastly... we have a saying around here. If there are no pics... it never happened. So, feel free to share some q-view next time. We loooove to see what your smoking.


Don't worry... you'll have that smoker dialed in soon and you'll be posting pics of 14 hour brisket smokes.

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