ok, im completely confused

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Smoking Fanatic
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[you], thanks for reading and the advice you give,

ok i have been having trouble with the temp on chicken. i have tried several times to get the temp of the brest to 165*, witch is not the problem. the problem is when i reach this temp the chicken still is raw in the joints. i have done as much research on this as i can and everyone says pull it at 165* any higher and you will get dry chicken, i have even tried closer to 170* with the same results.

so, i thought to myself, my therm is off. i tested it twice before i used it again, you know with boiling water, and it was right on. then i got smart and bought me 3 more digital therms (this is on this last try) had one in each breast, at a little different depth, and one in each thigh.

all of them were right were they needed to be, 166*on the brests and 182* in the thighs. still i had raw chicken.

i have cooked at different temps any where from 225* to a little over 300*.
i have tried standing them up to let the juices flow and have tried laying them down and rotating them every 20 min or so.
i have used the "beer can" style cooking thinking the beer would steam it a little more and cook it better from the inside out.

the only thing i can seem to make work is my Ronco Rotisserie, you know the "set it and forget it" machine. dont get me wrong it is easy and good and juicy and i do like the machine quite a bit. however its killing me i cant seem to make chicken the right way on a grill or smoker.

i right now have a chicken finishing up in the oven after cooking it to 165* on the grill beer can style. im waitting for the juices to start running clear and all i can think of is how dry its going to be.

any suggestions? other then what i have read in here and on other sites?
hey buzz

dont know what to tell you about the chicken i just did two beer can chickens i pulled the out of the smoker at 175 breast temp they turned out great nice and moist and tender but it sounds like you covered that base allready next time maybe you could put them in the smoker for a couple of hours to get them a smoky flavor and finish them off in your Ronco Rotisserie jope this helps
Buzzard, I too am a bit perplexed by your situation. Are you trussing the birds in any way when you cook them? Not that it should make that much of a difference. I always rub/marinade with an olive oil and spice blend wheather smoking, grilling, or roasting. I probe the bird in the breast at the thickest part and pull when it reaches 180 (this is the temp I use for all bone in poultry, 170 for boneless). If I truss it at all, this is mainly for roasting, I use butchers string and go under the bird, over the wings, and around the legs in order to get even heat distribution and keep the flavor bundle in the cavity from falling out. I've never had a dry chicken with this method. Sometimes however I do get a little discoleration around the joints due to the marrow in the bones seeping out. This makes the meat around the bone and joint a light pink to dark red color, though it doesn't sound like this is what your experiencing. I'm sure others will jump in with their .02. The only other advice I could give is to smoke bonless parts and then you don't have any joints at all to deal with. Hope this helps in some way.
One possible problem is the position of your thermometer. Forgive me for going back to basics but.... was your thermometer(s) touching (or too close to) bone? The temps for properly cooked meat are taken from the center of the mass of the muscle. If you had a proper temp and raw meat then it appears that bone was transmitting a false signal to you! Dunno what else to suggest!
wow thanks for the fast replys all. see you all are saying kinda what i thought cook to 175* where everywhere else i read is saying 165*. ive read that on my therm, various websites, cookbooks etc.

i like the idea of finishing in my ronco, samon, but i woldnt have any idea on how long it would take to finish. i guess i could just play with it untill i get it right.

and no, jlloyd, i dont know what trussing is so im assuming i dont do it unless im that good :roll:

i agree srmonty sometimes you need to remember the basics, i do have to remind myself this a lot of times. but i do try to make sure im right inbetween the skin and the bone. im sure im not always right on but i try my best. i usually try to come down from the neck of the bird to the ass direction and leave it in the middle. i figure it will stay in better that way since more of the probe will be in the meat, and im afraid if i go straight in the probe will not be in all the way.

you all are awsome!
Buzz, you say specifically that your chicken is raw in the joints. A simple trick to get the thigh joint area done is to make a cut where the thigh meets the body and splay the leg quarter out a bit. This doesn't make for as handsome a presentation as a trussed bird (legs tied close to the body for a nice compact presentation) but it does let the leg quarter and more importantly the thigh joint area get done on a time table more consistent with the breast.

Another approach is to spatchcock the chicken. Simply put, you cut out the back bone and lay the chicken out flat allow for more surface area to be exposed to the heat.

The simplest and IMO best way to cook a chicken is in parts. The NSF foodsafe temp for poultry breast is 170* (what you read about pulling at 165* allows for residual heat taking it on up to 170*). For whole poultry, or dark meat parts, the target temp is 180*. I'm a bigger fan of white meat than dark, so I don't like over cooking the breast to get the thighs and legs done. This is easiest to control by parting the bird out an cooking each part to it premium doneness. This also makes it easier to brine the thick breast half longer than I would a smaller thigh.

There's plenty of goood advice in this thread, I'm sure you'll have some success with one of the methods listed here.
Scott is right on the money about splitting out the leg quarters, this is what I do as well. While I have beer canned chickens in the past, I find it just as easy to brine them and then simply lay them flat. Although this spatchcocking approach is something I may try the next time I do a bird.

I think it would be almost impossible to produce a dry bird as long as you
- Brined your bird
- Split the legs
- Smoke it at around 225*

In regrards to temps, perhaps I'm a little more liberal about than most. As soon as my bird exceeds 170 in the breasts I pull it from the smoker, double wrap it in foil and stick it in the cooler for a couple of hours.
Buzz, you've been given some good tips here so there isn't a whole lot for me to add. I personally follow the NSF food-safe temp especially when it comes to poultry.

Click on the link for a list of cooked food internal temps. NSF Food Safty

I like to use the spatchcock method on game hens and chicken when I grill them, guess I'll have to give it a try in the smoker.
Hey Buzz.

Sorry for the late reply...I never made it to the boards yesterday. Everyone has already given you the best advice so there is not much for me to add. One thing to note; when smoking whole chickens it is definitely best to brine them first. If done properly, brining is an almost foolproof way to guarantee a moist and juicy result. For smoking I prefer the beer can method for alot of reasons, but one obvious advantage is that I can fit more into the smoker this way. Keep your box temp at 225*-235* until breast reads 170* at the thickest point. Double wrap in HD foil and let reast in an insulated cooler. Temp will continue to rise and juices will redistribute through the meat.

When grilling (which is faster when time is a concern) I still prefer to buy whole chickens. In general whole fryers/roasters can be bought at a much lower price/lb than individual pre-packaged pieces parts. (Brining is not as critical for the direct grilling method, but if you can afford the extra time it is still a good idea). Spatchcocking is, by far, the best method for grilling whole chickens because it orients the meat in relatively uniform thickness yet is thin enough to cook fully. Scott in KC posted a very useful link that describes spatchcocking very well, with pictures. If desired, you could separate the spatchcocked bird into two halves by cutting down both sides of the breast bone.

I hope this helps. Good luck with future endeavors and keep on smokin'!

Sorry for the late reply. Sounds like the others have covered all of the bases... It can be tricky at times getting a good read on the internal temps on a chicken... as stated above, just be sure to go for center mass and avoid the contacting bone...

I also recommend brining... Helps to ensure retained moisture when cooked to the higher suggested internal temps...

As you continue on the road to chicken cooking greatness, and as you measure the temps, grab the leg and give it a wiggle...you will learn to tell when the chicken is done when the leg joint feels loose in the joint... works for turks too...


I've been away for a while. Did you ever solve your issue?

As most have said, poultry temp is sometimes hard to judge. The way I like to do it is as follows:
With the chicken's neck facing away from you, start in the breast even with the leg joint, insert the probe at a 30 degree down angle until the tip of the probe is in the very middle of the breast. You don't want to touch any part of any bone. This seems to give the best reading. Also, when the temp reaches 165, I pull the probe and insert in a couple other places to make sure the breast is 165. Make sure you let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes. That will bring your breast up to 170 (safe).

Also, are you sure that your bird is completely defrosted? If it is even a little bit frozen, it will not cook evenly.
I would like to know what you mean when you say it raw in the joints. If your saying it is red in the joints or is it bloody. If you are getting a reading of 175 to 180 in the thickest part of the thigh chance are that the juices are running clear which means the chicken is done. If the juices are clear and the meats is red that is a function of smoking chicken. The chickens now days are so young when slaughtered that the bones are not completely hard, bone marrow seeps through and colors the meat in the joints. If the internals are right and the juices are clear it's done.

You say at the same internals the Ronco produces chicken that is done, but without smoke in the ronco unit you will not get the seeping effect and red meat at the joints. I bet your chicken is done and you are over cooking it causing it to be dry.

If cooking whole birds I really recommend brinning so the breast meat will turn out moist even though it is above the 160 internal mark.
A couple of things I always do..

1. Always brine the chicken - I've never even come close to drying out the chicken when I do this.

2. Butterfly the chicken - splitting the chicken at the center of the breast and removing the backbone gives you two nice halves that are essentially the same thickness throughout which makes even cooking easier.

If you are getting close to time to eat and the leg won't wiggle freely for you, you can always wrap them up in foil and crank up the heat a bit.
Similar in principle to the 3-2-1 method with ribs..you can remove the foil for a few minutes to finish if you want to sauce them...

anyways..my 2 cents
When I smoke chicken or turkey I don't even check internal temperature.

If the leg twists easily in the "knee joint" it is done. Usually in my experience that is about 5 - 6 hours at 225 deg.

I don't brine it, usually just rub it good with Tony Chacere seasonings or some other Cajun seasoning and smoke it hard for 5 - 6 hours.

I've never had a problem with raw spots.

Also I just started using the beer can things. I personally can't stand to waste the beer, so I just shove the holder up the chicken's butt so it will stand up and drain.
I never had heard the term "spatchcock" before. Had to click on Scotts link to find it means butterfly.

Learn new things here everyday.

Also when doing my remote tempature gauage I always place it in where the thigh meets the body.

Take care,

Couple things:

Like a few folks on here have mentioned, I separate the breasts from the leg thigh quarter. All poultry, ducks and turkeys too, and all cooking methods, roasting and grilling, etc. The parts naturally cook so differently, I think there's no better way to get perfect meat.

Breasts I'll pull at 160, not a degree over. "Carryover" will get you to 165. Leg quarters are forgiving, as long as you're cooking on low heat you can do what you wish with them, I like mine a touch overcooked.

I you want the bird whole, you can moisten the breast meat in 2 ways. Brining is great, and you can also "bard" it. Fancy french technique used on small birds like quail. Just take strips of pork back fat, place them on the breasts, and tie with butcher string. Fat melts away during cooking, basting the meat. This is usually a roasting technique, but it should work in a smoker. If you try it, let me know how it works.

I'm also wondering what Jim above mentioned, if maybe the legs are done but don't look right. If the temp is right, only way to really tell is to taste it.
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