first attempt at smoked chicken using ECB

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by tasunkawitko, Jun 8, 2008.

  1. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    gentlemen -

    i kept a running diary of my first attempt; you can read it here:

    results overall went quite well, i think, especially considering that this was my first attempt.

    opinions, suggestions etc. would be appreciated.

  2. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just wondering why you didn't post it here? This is the best smoking place on earth? At least here, you would get a response.
  3. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    ron -

    the reason i posted it at BSB to begin with is because it's my website and i use it as a sort of "blog" for different things i do, such as such as hunt, fish and....smoke chickens! [​IMG]

    here's a copy/paste of the process:


    Posted: June 07 2008 at 11:53 |
    i've got two whole chickens and intend to smoke-cook them in my binkmann smoke-cooker (ECB = el cheapo brinkmann).

    at exactly noon today, i've got the chickens started in a brine of 1 gallon of water, 1 cup kosher salt and 1 cup packed dark brown sugar. for now, i will keep things basic and experiment as experience accrues.

    i've got the chickens in a bucket in the fridge, weighted down with a brick double-wrapped in foil, then plastic.

    according to, they should brine for four hours. once per hour, i will rotate and stir the birds in the brine.

    will report on progress later....

    Posted: June 07 2008 at 15:49 |
    ok, i've put a few unlit charcoal briquettes in the charcoal pan of my ecb. in a coffe can that has a lot of holes drilled in it, i've let 8 briquettes. i've got a few hickory chunks soaking in water and will add both them and the lit briquettes to the charcoal pan soon.

    in about 15 minutes, i'll rinse the chickens and rub them down by brushing on a little bit of olive oil, then working in some durkees st. louis chicken and pork rub into them. i will then set one on the beer can contraption with a can of pabst blue ribbon. the other chicken will be trussed and set on the bottom grill rack (right above the water pan, which will be full of 1 can of frozen apple juice plus enough water to fill) breast-down for the first half of cooking, then breast-up for the 2nd half.

    Posted: June 07 2008 at 17:09 |
    alright, as of 5pm, the birds are in and the ecb is heating up nicely. we trussed the birds up a bit at the legs and wings to pevent flopping, and in the non-beer-can bird, i've got a peeled apple in the cavity to keep it moist etc.

    i am relying somewhat on the warm/ideal/hot indicator, but have also placed an oven themometer on the bottom grill rack in order to have a better idea of what the temperatures are. i've got a few briquettes in a coffee can going and will add them if necessary to reach or maintain the cooking temperature i am looking for, which seems to be around 225-250 degrees.

    one note, from here on out, i am going to use only kingsford charcoal or lump charcoal if i can find it. the sams's club stuff i have seems to burn too fast and too cool. it also smells weird and seems to produce some funky ash.

    Posted: June 07 2008 at 18:12 |
    ok, after one hour, it seems i've got a little to learn about temperature maintenance. most of the hour was spent at about 150 degrees, then toward the end i fanned the coals and brought it up between 225 & 250, where it remains now. i think the problem is not enough charcoal and too many hickory chunks, so i'll remember that next time. now that the hickory chunks are charcoally on the outside, it looks like things are going OK.

    since the first hour was spent at such a low temperature, i am going to start the actual cooking time at 6pm. at 7, i will base turn the non-beer-can chicken breast-side up and baste both with some apricot jam. i will also replensih the water pan and charcoal/smokeing wood-pan if necessary.

    Posted: June 07 2008 at 19:19 |
    ok, i added water to the water pan at 630pm. a little before 7, the temperature fell off a bit, so i stirred the coals around and maintained it as best as i could.

    at 7, we basted both chickens liberally with apricot jam that we had heated up until it was thin enough to baste, but still thick. i also topped off the water pan and added some briquettes that i had started a while earlier. finally, i added a couple of chunks of hickory.

    the temperature is up where it should be and i expect the birds to be done in an hour. will check them a little after 8 to see what the internal temperatures are.

    we're fixing green bean casserole and stuffing as side dishes, along with hot buttered rolls. one thing is for sure, next time i will start all this about 3 hours earlier in order to not have to eat supper so late!

    Posted: June 07 2008 at 20:18 |
    well, due to problems maintaining temperature, they weren't quite done at 8pm, but since our side dishes were, i pulled them out of the ecb and finihsed them for a few minutes in the oven. overall, things went pretty well, i think. maintaining temperature in the 225-250 range is probably the most important thing.

    was it any good or not? will report later.....

    Posted: June 07 2008 at 21:50 |
    ok, results.

    as i said above, due to temperature control problems, the birds had to finish about 20-25 minutes in the oven. we considered them done when they reached 165 degrees, as determined by a probe thermomenter in the thickest part of the thigh. we were also able to "shake hands" with the legs as they were falling-off-the-bone tender.

    the smell was delicious. the meat had a good smoke ring of pink throughout and was very moist and tender. i was worried about too much smoke taste because i had been having so much trouble with the temperature control and figured that both the charcoal and the wood chunks were smoking too cold (creosote); the good news is that this was not the case. the smoke flavor was peesent, but not overpowering, and the tang from the rub combined with the sweetness of the baste worked well together. considering this was a first attempt, i definitely count it as a success!

    i've tried to incorporate lessons learned above, but the main thing of course is better temperature control. should be something that can be achieved after implementing the rest of the mods to the ecb. so far, i've only been able to drill holes in the lid and in the charcoal pan, and will try to finish the rest of the procedures soon.

    any opinions, suggestions from folks who have done this beforer would be appreciated!
  4. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well one thing I saw was "topping off the water pan". I rarely if ever, use a full pan of water. Something like chicken is usually done in 3 to 4 hours tops for a whole bird, depending on size. I would use no more than a half pan of water and add to it if it eventually evaporates out.
    My ECB would use atleast 1/2 pan of coals and I would shoot for 250-275º smoker temp. Learn the Minion method of staking coals. I am going to try one today on my Gasser for a change and see how that turns out.
  5. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    flash -

    i got to thinking the same thing regarding the water pan later that evening. it might also explain why the first hour of the smoke was spent at such low temperatures. now that i think about it, the fire was probably spending too much energy trying to heat up the cold water.

    when i began the smoke, i intended using the minion method, but as i experienced so many problems controlling temperature, i fiddled and fiddled until i didn't really know what i was doing.

    thanks for the suggestions, i will implement them the next time i give this a try! i've got some pork spare ribs that are waiting for a nice weekend! :)
  6. tn_bbq

    tn_bbq Smoking Fanatic

    I agree with the others about topping off the water pan and/or using boiling water.

    Try the minion method. It should help.

    Calibrate your thermometer. Those ECB things might be off.

    Sam's choice charcoal stinks. I used to use this stuff for grilling burgers and dogs, but recently I too have noticed a big change in the smell. Maybe I'm just getting more particular, but it wouldn't suprise me if they changed the way they are made (for the worse).
  7. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

  8. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    walking dude -

    i saw the mods on teh randyq site and am in the process now of implementing them as i am able to. it is the original ecb.

    as for why i put cold water in the pan, the real reason is....i simply wasn't thinking! i;m half-north-dakotan, and every now and then, something like that happens.....[​IMG]
  9. 1894

    1894 Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    um , er , ah , ahem , I'm thinkin that happens to most folks no matter where they are from [​IMG] That or we are the only two to experiance brain lapses , but we are from different states so go figger [​IMG]

    Easy to look back and say "Duh , that makes a lotta sense "

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