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whole chicken in MES30

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by LaLaMatt, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. LaLaMatt

    LaLaMatt Fire Starter

    Hey folks - got a MES30. Never tried any poultry yet, but wanted to give a whole chicken a try. Started digging around as to what to do and have read a lot of issues with the MES producing rubbery skin because it can't get over 275F and I've read you need 325F to get decent skin. Is that right? Does anyone have any good techniques that produce good skin, or am I better of spatcocking it, smoking it, and dumping it skin down on my gas grill for 10mins at the end?

    Would greatly appreciate any advice/help!
  2. Brine it, (or Kosher it, if you prefer), rub the skin with baking powder (lightly) before you put anything else on the outside, smoke it at 230 or so until the internal temperature is about 135 and then finish it in a 450 degree oven.
    If you really want to step up the game, gently melt a stick or two of salted butter (you don’t want to clarify it, just make it liquid) and sauté some garlic and herbs de provence in a small amount of it. Strain the portion of the butter you used for the sauté into the rest of the melted butter through some cheesecloth, and then inject the bird with the (now seasoned) butter. (Prior to commencing the smoke, of course) Make sure to leave an adequate amount of the butter just under the skin to help with the crisping...
    LaLaMatt likes this.
  3. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Hi there and welcome!

    Oh how I have fought with this situation hahaha.

    I would say that if you want the greatest success to spatch the chicken, place skin down on the bottom most rack, and crank the heat to max.

    Pull the chicken at about 140F in the breast and throw on a screaming hot gas grill at the end to get the skin to behave better for you. It should get up to 165F easily this way to be cooked in the breast.

    Or just remove the skin from the breast and most of the thighs, season, and smoke like that.
    Either way this will be a good learning experience for you and with chicken being cheap you can keep trying until you find what you like best.

    One last tip, when doing a whole bird you may want to think about brining it for about 12 hours or so. I do just a simple salt + water brine, pull out of brine, pat dry and season with POG (Salt comes from the brine). This produces amazing smoked chicken :)

    Best of luck and enjoy eating some great smoked chicken!
    sm0kin and LaLaMatt like this.
  4. SmokinVOLfan

    SmokinVOLfan Master of the Pit

    Man just did one yesterday in my MES with horrible skin. I usually do them on my propane smoker but didn’t this time. No need to brine IMO as most the store bought birds already have a solution in them.

    Spatchcock it and the place butter pats under the skin on the breasts along with rub. Then rub the whole outside as well. Smoke it at 275 then right when it hits about 155 go skin side down on a hot ass gas grill for a couple minutes.

    Might not be great skin wise but the meat will be phenomenal. I prefer apple but use whatever wood you prefer. Good luck!
    LaLaMatt likes this.
  5. normanaj

    normanaj Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Whole chicken is fairly simplistic.Brine over night,rinse and dry the next morning.Season and let sit for a few and then into the smoker it goes.I like to let it get to a temp of 155-160 and then into an insanely hot grill or oven to crisp up that skin,when the breast is about 165-170 life is good.
    tallbm and LaLaMatt like this.
  6. LaLaMatt

    LaLaMatt Fire Starter

    Hey folks - so i did it - first, it's taken me more than a year to try a chicken on my MES - reason being i have one of those showtime rotis machines ('set it and forget it!'), that just effortlessly produces fantastic crazy juicy rotis chickens, so I've always done that. However, this smoked chicken was amazing! I've never had such a juicy chicken. The flavor was fantastic! Immediately my wife said we should get some friends over and make it again. That's that's whats happening this Sunday. I will be cooking two!

    It wasn't all perfect though - i was unhappy with the skin, which was edible but not much more then that. Here's what i did:

    -Spatchcocked, the chicken (5lb), kosher salted a let air dry in the fridge for a few hours
    -Heated up the MES to 275
    -I only have hickory and oak pellets, so i mixed them together and set them in my A-MAZE-N
    -About 1hr 45mins , the chicken was around 155F, I had by outdoor grill all fired up and transferred the chicken skin down to the grill
    -I took some stuff inside and returned just 2-3 minutes later to see the thermometer reading 172F - i opened the grill and there was a pretty solid fire engulfing the chicken. I pulled the chicken off, fortunately the fire couldn't have been going that long, it gave it some solid grill marks but wasn't burned. See pic smoked chicken.jpg
    -Let it rest for 10mins or so

    As I said, taste was amazing. Perfectly cooked, but the skin was not great. I want to try and get a better skin for my friends coming over. I'm thinking maybe to pull it earlier - perhaps 140F, so it gets bit more time on the grill to crisp, and perhaps have the grill a bit lower set so it doesn't turn into a fireball and cook the chicken too quickly.

    Really appreciate all the advice - how does my plan for this Sunday sound to you folks??
    tallbm likes this.
  7. B237DB36-CB29-4230-ACE0-B0E11D359CCA.jpeg

    I brine pull early and finish under broiler for a few mins.
    tallbm and LaLaMatt like this.
  8. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I think your new approach may yield better skin results.
    If you care to tweak a little bit more on approach #3 (I bet money there will be a 3rd chicken attempt lol), I would say try smoking at a lower temp so you get more smoke flavor in the chicken without ever risking getting too high of an IT with the chicken. Pull at 140F or less and then throw skin side down on a hot grill and finish that way.

    I do just such a thing with smoked chicken wings and my state fair style cured turkey drums and thighs.
    For boneless skinless cuts of chicken I also turn down the heat to get more smoke on the meat but no need to toss them on a grill since they are skinless hahaha.

    Here is an example of what I mean.
    Cured smoked Turkey Thighs [Edit: well crap I just realized that I threw them on the grill to reheat as we didn't eat them right out of the smoker haha, no pics of the thighs after grilling but you get the idea]:

    Cured Smoked Turkey Gallantine (deboned, cured, stuffed with stovetop stuffing, tied, smoked, and then grilled for skin reasons)

    Couldn't find wing pics.
  9. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member

  10. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Guys you are really over thinking the skin process. Any meat with skin needs the skin dried or dehydrated before smoking. Grilling, not so much because of the high heat. That is why you mop, baste, spritze, sauce, etc to try and hold the moisture in while grilling/BBQ'ing. But smoking requires a bit of easy prep work.

    1. Brine a day if you want a plump juicy chicken. If smoked properly its not essential, but it will make it even more juicy and will carry over some small flavor modifiers if done right even with enhanced chickens. Use a 1 salt/1 refined sugar/1 brown sugar to a gallon ratio. With that ratio you can adjust to the volume needed. You can add cure if you like the taste or if you intend a longer than 4 hour smoke to reach safe temp.

    2. Set in the reefer a day uncovered or overnight, after patting dry with a paper towel. The reefer is your easiest dehydration device you have, while insuring the meat's safety. I have left forgotten and left birds in the reefer till the skin is totally dry and becoming leather, they still worked.

    3. Two hours before smoking, pull the bird set a fan blowing over it. Even if you skip 1 & 2, do this and your meat will come out great! Watch the skin, it will amazingly change colors from white skin to a really pretty yellow. If it was still damp the meat will turn tacky to the touch. This is the fat rising due to the reduced moisture. Moisture is smokes greatest enemy. Its why you do a de-water cycle when smoking any cured products, Canadian bacon, ham, tasso, sausage, andouille, hocks, neckbones, trotters, etc etc etc... Smoke doesn't adhere to water, or it does and then evaporates with the fluid and leaved the skin nekkid.

    I don't spatchcock, why? My Pop who taught me always said, never cut any meat unless necessary. you lose some juice every time you cut it. Why smoke pork ribs whole? I started long ago tending Pops fires when he let me and really nothing changes. We have electronics now that not only shortens the learning curve to immediate, but guaranties a delicious, juicy, and SAFE meal no matter what you do. But the old ways will never fade away.

    Start simple, and then expand your horizons one at a time. Different woods, different flavor modifiers, etc. You need to set down a base level to expand upon first. If you can smoke a delicious juicy and safe chicken, the rest is just langinape.

    Oh and thanks Chris, your check will be in the mail. <Chuckles>
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
    gmc2003 likes this.
  11. LaLaMatt

    LaLaMatt Fire Starter

    foamheart - obviously this is quite different to my previous method - but I'm happy to give it a try! A couple of quick questions -

    Brine & air dry - it sounds like ideally each one should be an overnight process - meaning if I'm cooking on Sunday, Friday is brine day, then Saturday is air-dry day, is that right?

    After the brine, do i rinse and pat dry, or just dry?

    The fan blowing- which sounds like the most important bit, i'm not sure I get that...what sort of fan do you use?? Do you just point it at the chicken and leave it for two hours? Do you keep the chicken cold during that process, or is it out at room temp?

    Prior to smoking, do you put butter or seasoning on the chicken anywhere?

  12. There's no way I could stand seeing chicken sit out for 2hrs. I can do an hour but it skeeves me out after that. I've never tried keeping it in the fridge like that either but I might try that. I'm all in on brining poultry though.
  13. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    LOL... first I have to tell you I had a pistol with the same name as your avatar name. Lamatte, I could kick myself for selling it, best home security weapon made!

    Lets see if I can help.

    Brine & dry, ideally yes. Smoking is about prep and patience because its like bread. Its take a lot of waiting to accomplish an easy feat. The military you train and play silly sailor games for 99 hours to be ready for a 1 hour need. We don't have to do these things but if you try it once, generally you'll be a confirmed believer.

    You can rise if you like, people here seem to stay away from any cleaning due to fear of cross contamination. You can wipe it or pat if you feel safer. I understand that Mrs Bear says Da'Bear should own stock in the paper towel industry. LOL

    You can use any fan. It helps evaporate the skins fluids, just as it does to you when sweating and turn on a fan. I bought a cheap little clip on the desk 10.00 fan works great and it easily stores in the kitchen. BUT i have also used a large box fan. If you look back at "woodcutter" doing his canadian bacon you'll see the need. LOL

    First evaporation is in itself a type of refrigeration although I'd only use it in a pinch. Thats why your reefer works as a dehydrant. It works by removing condensation. But the best way to manage the temp is to just remember the you have a magic 4 hour window to take a whole muscle to safe temp without any degradation. I know, its but close enough for government work. If you pull it and dry it 45 to 60 mins, while you set your smoker up and get it where you want it, it will make you allow your smoker to equalize while allowing your meat to dry. Don't fudge on the time, let the meat form a good pellicle.

    Also another quick hint. IMHO the best smoke occurs between 95 degrees IT and 150 degrees IT. Before and after you see smoke but at a diminished capacity.

    This is what I do. Once the chicken is ready to go in the smoker, I salt and pepper the inside. I get some oil on my hands and lightly oil the outsides, why? Cause Pop called it the suntan lotion. Its so you skin doesn't become too dry and crack and break from dry skin or too much heat.

    I generally don't rub or season the skin. I can't see where it adds anything to the meat, I don't believe the flavors can get thru the skin fat. But I also season the crawfish sometimes after they are boiled. If you get it on your hands, you are bound to get some on the meat. LOL

    3 days is not too much, first day brine over night to make it plump and juicy. Second is to dry the skin. third you insure its dry with a fan and then smoke it. The first two days won't take 30 mins total in prep. (Course the bride may get aggravated with your bird uncovered in HER reefer...LOL)

    Do not use two much smoke and know your smoke, some are hard smokes and others not so much. If you like hickory, oak, mesquite use it sparingly. Fruits and nut trees are generally much lighter and sweet smokes.

    Just a little bit of pre-planning and prep and you get a lovely, delicious & juicy bird. Each one done just a slight bit different, its so much fun and even more so when people appreciate and enjoy what you've prepared!





    See those juices? Remember to let it rest as long as possible!

    ps #3 is a "Nekkid Chicken" its not all swollen up because it wasn't brined. I do nekkid, brined as well as injected. I like brine the best too, if I think about it in time.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
    Bearcarver likes this.
  14. LaLaMatt

    LaLaMatt Fire Starter

    ok foamheart, you've sold me - I'm giving it a go! Took the two overnight brined chickens out this morning, patted them dry, and they are now air-drying on racks in the fridge. I will give the fan thing a shot tomorrow before they go in the smoker. If this doesn't work out i'm gonna have 12 hungry people!!!!
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
  15. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Not sure I would try something new when company is comin, but I am sure you'll be happily surprized. Rememeber to pull the chickens out about 163 IT, they will continue to travel a few degrees while resting.
  16. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

  17. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    <Crickets Chirping>
  18. chopsaw

    chopsaw Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Guess it didn't work out , he's tied up in the basement .
  19. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Can you make it out to cash. If LaLa doesn't come back - I don't want to be an accomplice. :emoji_astonished::emoji_sunglasses:.