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Tough Chicken Following Manufacturer's Directions

Count Porcula

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I have a new Smokin-It, and I'm having chicken problems. I used to smoke chicken beautifully, but when I follow the directions Smokin-It provided, I get tough chicken. They say to give it 2-1/2 hours, which seems way too short. They recommend 165 degrees. I took a chicken out today after letting it go a little longer than they recommended, and it was at 172. It was still tough.

Seems to me I should just forget the directions, take the heat down to 200, and go 4 hours. What are other people doing?

This was a 5-pounder, by the way.
 

BrianGSDTexoma

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You will get some good suggestions from others here but for me first I would brine it in a basic brine then spatchcock it to cook even. Most probably cook high heat but can be done with lower heat. I never worry about skin on smoked chicken myself I just tear it off and eat that moist tasty meat. I have friend that wraps them and they just falls apart when they come out.
 

pa42phigh

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I cook my chicken at 275 because that all the higher my masterbuilt smoker goes. I pull my thighs and quarters at 170. It probably take 2 hours or so, never pay to much attention to time I cook to temp. You mentioned that your chicken was fine before, what temp did you pull it out of your smoker that time?
 

Count Porcula

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I don't remember worrying about the temperature. If I could pull a leg off, it was done.

I stuck today's chicken in the oven at 300 for 90 minutes, and it's finally tender. Next time I'm going by the leg test.
 

pa42phigh

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I have a new Smokin-It, and I'm having chicken problems. I used to smoke chicken beautifully, but when I follow the directions Smokin-It provided, I get tough chicken. They say to give it 2-1/2 hours, which seems way too short. They recommend 165 degrees. I took a chicken out today after letting it go a little longer than they recommended, and it was at 172. It was still tough.

Seems to me I should just forget the directions, take the heat down to 200, and go 4 hours. What are other people doing?

This was a 5-pounder, by the way.
is it a built in thermometer have you verified it??
 

pc farmer

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My question is if you have a way thats worked for a long time, why change it? I try new stuff, sometimes it works and sometimes not. Sometimes I change that way or just go back to the way I like it and is proven in my mind.
 

jcam222

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I’m with PC on this one. Why change what was working? Not sure what smoker you’re had prior to the Smokin it but at the end of the day they all boil down to cook temp and the food finish temp. Can you just go back to what works for you?
 

gmc2003

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When you say tough chicken - do you mean the skin or the meat? For crispy bite thru skin you'll need higher heat(325*+). Chicken white meat is done at 165* and although the dark meat is technically done at 165* I like to bring it up to 175*.

Chris
 

SmokinAl

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If you spatchcock it, the thighs will be done the same time as the breast. I like to pull mine out when the breast is 157, and the thighs are 170. Then after a short rest the carryover cook will bring the breast up to 165, and the thighs up to 175. It’s always tender & juicy.
Al
 

Chasdev

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5 lbs is a large older bird and may have just been a tough old hen.
I look for the smallest I can find and no heavier than 4 lbs.
BUT, I also split them in two and cook them hot and fast for around 45 minutes...and never smoke them, rather grill direct over coals, under a Weber cover.
 

Count Porcula

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It's too bad small birds are hard to find here.

I found my old recipe, and it says to go four hours, so that's what I'll do. And I won't use citrus wood next time! It's not for me.
 

tallbm

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I have a new Smokin-It, and I'm having chicken problems. I used to smoke chicken beautifully, but when I follow the directions Smokin-It provided, I get tough chicken. They say to give it 2-1/2 hours, which seems way too short. They recommend 165 degrees. I took a chicken out today after letting it go a little longer than they recommended, and it was at 172. It was still tough.

Seems to me I should just forget the directions, take the heat down to 200, and go 4 hours. What are other people doing?

This was a 5-pounder, by the way.
There are some "rules of thumb" with chicken and poultry that may help you nail your chicken no matter what a recipe or approach says.

  1. Chicken/poultry skin will be tough and rubbery UNLESS you cook at a high enough temp like 325F or so. You will often get crispy skin but should always get edible skin rather than rubber.
  2. Chicken is done at 165F internal temp (IT) in the breast. Al pulls alittle early and lets it coast up to 165F. The closer you are to 165F in the breast the less tough/dense the breast meat will be. Dark meat is done at 165F but is squishy at that temp so most people take dark meat closer to 180F or so.
  3. Time on a chicken is a bad metric to cook by and shouldn't matter. It's all about internal temp and high enough heat to handle the rubber skin problem. If you have a skinless piece of meat then you dont have a rubber skin issue haha and you can smoke at any temp you like but the IT in breast and dark meat still applies
  4. Breast meat or whole chickens can be dry unless you brine time (12-24hrs is best but any time will help, simple brine is salt + water). Dark meat needs nothing but seasoning and cooking.
So with armed with that info you can do whatever you like as long as you manage the skin temp cooking quirk and manage the internal temp of the chicken.

Many electric smokers can only go to 275F max temp so skin is often a problem. One solution is to smoke the chicken at any temp you want until it hits about 135F IT in the breast in/under 3 hours then you throw it skin side down on a screaming hot grill and finish it there to whip the skin into shape. IT of chicken still applies on the grill.

I hope this info helps so you can take any approach you like as long as you keep those rules of thumb in mind to deal with poultry quirks :)
 

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