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Aug 10, 2006 09:06 PM

Smokin a Chicken!

As in the backyard in a homemade smoker type smokin' :) My first time at this, What internal temp should I be looking for to tell me when its done? TIA for any help and info

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  1. We developed a technique for smoke/roasted chickens. We have an electric smoker (SmokinTex) but it should work on any rig. I use a rub on the chickens, it's the Texas brisket rub from Steven Raichlen's book on rubs, marinades and sauces. I like this recipe because it's very spicy and has no sugar. I put the chickens (I do 3 at a time) into the smoker with mesquite in the smoker box, set the temperature for 200 degrees. All this means is that I get a lot of smoke which is what I want. At about 20 - 30 minutes, I take the chickens out and put them into the oven at 350 F, roast until done. For me, that's an internal temperature of around 140-150 F.

    The reason I like to finish the chicken in the oven is because (1) it's a whole lot faster; (2) at 20-30 minutes the chicken is as smoky as it's going to get; (3) I loathe dried-out chicken with rubbery skin which is what happened when we smoked the chicken to doneness.

    Hope this helps.

    7 Replies
    1. re: cheryl_h

      Yes thanks Cheryl for the info. I also have some pork ribs (not pork ribs like you might imagine as there has to be an inch and half of meat on the bones ) in there. Those I rubbed with a premixed rub. Hey I'll experiment with the different flavorings as I get into this :) First I just want to get something that tastes smokey and won't kill me. LOL!!!!! By the way I'm with you on the no sugar thing. First time I had slow smoked BBQ brisket (and it wasn't sweet,) I was amazed. I'll look for his recipe, and thanks again for the help.

      1. re: cheryl_h

        Well I did it. The whole house went up like kindling... LOL Just Kidding!!! Cheryl Thanks again and you were very right. The Chicken skin was so much like rubber I could have bounced it off the wall! But because I had a hard time keeping the temp up to 200 (kind of windy and was cloudy) the meat was very moist and really did have a nice smoke flavor to it. But the real star were the ribs. I did have to finish those in the oven as well as the chicken, but Oh Man! Were they ever moist and smokey and the premixed rub I used tasted really good though I'll play around with that in the future. Thanks to you and Liana for the suggestions. By the way, the smoke smell gets on you and doesn't let go til you shower. For the first time in my life I felt like a Polish Sausage. LOL!! See Ya!

        1. re: Chas

          Sounds like a good time to me. Ribs are fabulous, so are pork chops, actually most pork goes well with slow cooking and smoke.

          If you think the chicken skin is rubbery, try smoking a whole turkey. Our first attempt was based on a Raichlen recipe and called for brining, then smoking using indirect heat from a grill which is higher temperature cooking than most smokers. We followed the instructions, DH insisted that the turkey should be smoked breast down (WRONG!) and kept opening the smoker to check progress (DOUBLE WRONG!). It took about 6 - 8 hours. The breast was dry and the skin could have been used as shoe leather.

          I emailed Raichlen to ask why the skin was so tough and he replied that the long, slow cooking was the reason. We now do our turkeys the same way as the chickens - smoke, then roast. This gives us wonderful moist, smoky turkey with crisp skin. To die for.

          The electric smoker has many advantages, one of them being that you turn it on and leave it alone. The only time you're bathed in smoke is when you take food out, so you don't end up quite so smoky. The smell does tend to linger in the hair, I've found, which is very appealing to cats.

          1. re: cheryl_h

            I just roasted 13 lb turkey using the indirect method in my Weber charcoal grill. I put soaked hickory chips on the coals at the beginning and kept the temp pretty consistently in the 350-400 range for three hours. I added some coals about 1/2 way through. I left the bird breast down and it turned out very well--mildly smoky, moist meat, fairly crisp skin.

            1. re: doctor_mama

              My husband smoked a large turkey breast (with bone) over hickory and charcoal last Thanksgiving, and it was the best, most flavorful, juiciest turkey I'd ever had. Not dry at all, amazingly enough: we're both dark-meat types, and this breast was even better than the dark meat from the backup turkey I did in the oven. The trick was that he brined it overnight first in water, salt, and some other things (maybe orange juice, bay leaf, peppercorns—if I'm remembering correctly). It went for hours and hours (not sure how long) over very low heat. This was done in an offset-firebox setup. Brining would almost certainly benefit smoked whole chicken too.

              1. re: doctor_mama

                I should have mentioned that our turkey was 25lbs. We brined the turkey beforehand, always do with poultry. Now we smoke for about an hour or two, finish in the oven, also an hour or two to internal temperature of about 140 F in the breast meat. It rises about 10 degrees after taking it off the heat. I absolutely loathe overcooked foods so this may be too low for most people, it means the meat is pinkish but very juicy.

                I would never do a whole turkey breast down in our smoker. There's a distinct temperature gradient with the hottest part being the lowest racks because the heat comes from the bottom. The smokiest part is the highest part of the smoker. Putting the turkey in breast up keeps it from overcooking.

                1. re: cheryl_h

                  Last thanksgiving I smoked a 16# turkey with no brine. I injected the turkey & made a mop sauce (wife has sodium issues) before smoking I wrapped the turkey in wet cheese cloth & mopped it every hour. I kept the temp as close to 200 F as possible on a cold windy night before thanksgiving & smoked it for about an hour a pound (16 hours). I used a combination of charcoal & cherry wood chunks. BEST turkey I ever had. Only problem was I was almost to tired to eat it.

        2. Yay for smoked chicken! My husband does amazing smoked chicken wings (he was given some secrets by the pitmaster at the Slick Pig in Murfreesboro, Tenn.), and we've had some great smoked chicken quarters in various barbecue joints in the South. But I'm not a pro, so if I'm smoking a whole chicken I use a rotisserie so it doesn't dry out. I rub it with plenty of salt, pepper, and dried thyme, and that's it. Throw one or two chunks of hickory on the fire at the beginning, then let it cook slowly, slowly (I usually do about 3 hours); it cooks to a much higher internal temperature than necessary, but that's how I like it, like confit almost. And seriously: it doesn't dry out. Here's a picture:

          There's a tiny bit more about the cooking process here, if you're interested:

          I do this about once a week. The rotisserie's been well worth the investment.

          Let us know how you end up smoking yours.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Liana Krissoff

            Well one look at your chicken and the blackberry tart is forcing me to throw water on mine and I'll be right over LOL!!!! As Cheryl suggested I might just put it in the oven if the temp doesnt go high enough and finish it that way. By the way I used just the thyme and s&p too. Thanks for the info.

            1. re: Liana Krissoff

              Best way I have ever had chicken is on a beer can.
              Make a rub of your choice & rub the bird saving about 2 tablespoons for the beer (you can use soda instead if you want). After letting set in the fridge (2hrs to overnight) Open your beer or soda & drink 1/2 (pour it out if you are not thirsty) put 3 or 4 more holes in the top with a church key opener & pour your 2 tblsps. of spice in the can. Set your bird upright on the can (stuff the can up the birds butt). A trick I learned to keep the moisture from the can inside the cavity is to put a potato in the neck. & cook it over indirect heat between to piles of coals & around 325 F for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs.

            2. I've always smoked whole chickens using the beer-can method. Instead of beer, I fill an empty can with Mike's Hard Lemonade. I have a Texas-style barrel smoker, so I toss some coals and hickory chunks in the firebox, and let it smoke for about 3 minutes at 175-200 degrees. Then I add coals to the barrel portion itself on either side of the chicken, which raises the cooking chamber temp to aboue 325. I continue to add wood to the firebox to keep smoking the chicken. Total cooking time is about 2-2.5 hours. Chicken is moist, skin is crispy and not tough at all, and the taste is smoky, sweet, and the citrus undertones are wonderful.

              My rub is a guarded secret (but it does contain sugar). I'll serve the chicken as is or with a modified version of the PDT Honey-Pepper BBQ Sauce that's in Raichlen's Suace, Rubs, & Marinades book.

              1. regardless of what method you use to cook chicken, the internal temp of the meat stays the same. I go for 160 in the breast and 170 in the thigh. Some books will tell you 170 in the breast, but at that point, its just getting too dried out.

                I smoke them all the time, by the way, in my smoker. While doing them low and slow is nice and easy, I actually prefer to boost up my smoker temp to around 300. That way I get crisp skin while still enjoying the ease of smoking and infusing with great flavor.

                btw, for what it is worth, smoking with a combo of apple and cherry wood is my absolute fave. Cherry wood gives poultry a beautiful mahongany color...

                - Adam

                3 Replies
                1. re: adamclyde

                  Question on temperatures...with residual heat...if you like the breast to be 160 do you take it off the heat at 150?

                  1. re: ChowFun_derek

                    Chow Fun Derek, regarding carryover cooking of a roast chicken, Cook's Illustrated found NO carryover cooking with a roast chicken.

                    From Page 143 of "The Best Recipe" 1999 edition by the editors of Cook's Illustrated:

                    "We also tested the notion of the internal temperature rising after the chicken is removed from the oven, as it does with a beef roast. This simply does not happen. We removed a chicken from the oven and inserted an instant-read thermometer into the breast. It started out at 155 degrees and immediately started to fall, ending at 140 degrees after 15 minutes. Although resting for 10 minutes makes the meat juicier, the bird will not continue to cook."

                    In my own unscientific test, I removed a roasted chicken from a 350 degree oven when my probe themometer inserted into the breast reached 160 degrees. The temperature increased about 3 degrees as I was removing the chicken from the oven. I transferred the chicken (with the probe still inserted) to a plate covered loosely with foil to rest and the internal temperature decreased for the next 12 minutes before I carved the chicken.

                    1. re: Norm Man

                      Thanks...I couldn't have asked for a more concise and thoughtful response!

                2. A general comment on smoking:

                  People do 2 things that are commonly referred to as "smoking", but it should be noted that they are quite different.

                  There is *hot smoking*, which is what most people here are talking about, in which the meat is cooked, using heat, AND subjected to smoke.

                  There is also something called COLD smoking. In cold smoking, you brine the meat first, to remove some of the liquid; then you dry it, and you put it in a change that is then filled with smoke. The key thing to note here is that the temp in cold smoking is not allowed to go above 80 degrees or so--IOW, you are not cooking the meat (fish etc) with heat.

                  If you smoke meat, pork, fish, etc, long enough this way, it will keep for a long time. In the fall I smoke a side of salmon this way, in a home-made smoker I built from some sheet metal and a few sticks of wood (and of course a hot plate).