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Cooking a whole cold-smoked chicken

I received a cold-smoked whole chicken from the CSA, but I don't know how to cook it. I've found lots of information on how to smoke a chicken, and how to use the meat, but very little on the cooking process. Do I need to cook it until its internal temperature is 165? Should I rub melted butter or oil on it? Put lemons and herbs or anything else in the cavity? What oven temperature? Cover with foil? Thanks in advance for your guidance.

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  1. You're thinking too much. Cook it. 165.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mcnam003

      Right, because people get into so much trouble when they try to think out solutions instead of giving in to impulse and emotion.

    2. There are no instructions that came with it? Any smoked product (turkey, pheasant, trout) I encounter (with the exception of bacon) is ready to eat. Does the breast meat appear white and solid? If so, I'd say you just need to heat it under foil to not dry it out.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Chefpaulo

        The chicken came without written instructions, but the CSA worker told me it was not cooked. I just emailed the CSA for more information.

        1. re: MrsBridges

          Smoked but not cooked. Interesting. i was thinking this was more like a Greenberg's Smoked Turkey (excellent!) or a Ducktrap Farms smoked trout which are both ready to eat. If not cooked, please do!
          BTW - what is the CSA?

          1. re: Chefpaulo

            It's cold smoked, which means the meat is smoked to give it flavor and is raw unlike hot smoking, such as in a smoker with wood or charcoal, etc. which tends to cooks the meat all the way. Cold smoking just gives a smoky essence to the product and still has to be cooked.

      2. It had to have been brined or cured prior to cold smoking. Any ingredient list?

        2 Replies
        1. re: scubadoo97

          No list. I've requested more info from the CSA.

          1. re: scubadoo97

            It actually doesn't have to be brined or cured if cold smoked at below 90F and only for 1-2 hours.

          2. I contacted the CSA. The coordinator explained that the chicken must be cooked because they did not use nitrates. She told me to cook it at 325 F for 2 hours.

            18 Replies
            1. re: MrsBridges

              Unless your bird is about 8 lbs, you're looking at a chokingly dry chicken if you follow that path. I'd also take cooking advice from a CsA staffer with a grain of salt. -- they mainly want to make sure you don't get sick & sue them, so they'll have you cook everything to death.

              fWIW, I've never heard of cold smoked poultry -- fish, yes, birds no.

              1. re: rjbh20

                You can pretty much cold smoke anything (beef, pork, chicken, fish, oysters, mussels, cheese, nuts, etc). We were recently gifted cold-smoked pork chops from a chef friend. He suggested we grill or pan fry them.

                Cook it like you would any chicken. Personally, I'd cook it to an internal temp. of 150, probably high heat roasting. 450 degrees (a la Thomas Keller).

                1. re: lynnlato

                  Were those brined? Or just plain cold smoked?

                  1. re: JMF

                    I'm pretty certain they were just cold smoked.

              2. re: MrsBridges

                Good lord ! 2 hours?

                How big is it?

                That's likely very bad advice.

                1. re: MrsBridges

                  Even if they did cure it you would still need to cook it but since they didn't I worry about the safety of even the raw bird and how much bacterial growth could occur in the time it took to cold smoke. Can't imagine they cold smoked below 40F

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    Cold smoking is generally at about 90F.

                    I'm wondering if a smoked bird is somewhat safer than a raw one. And both are supposed to be cooked.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      And how long would you want an uncured raw chicken held at ~90 degrees and feel safe? Even if it was going to be cooked a few days later

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          Cold smoking is not new, it has been around as long as fire.

                          Cold smoked meats are usually only smoked for an hour or two for flavoring. They are not in the danger zone for long enough to worry about.

                          1. re: sedimental

                            I'm curious, why not heat smoke it and be done with it? Smoked pheasant and duck is a nice treat, even served cold.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              I am not sure what you mean? Low and slow...or on a grill?

                              Lean meats and more delicate meats suck when cooked low and slow, IMO. The texture is bad, they get over smoked and they are dry. That is why pork butt and fatty pork ribs work fine for that. Duck is nice and full of fat and is good heat smoked, chicken....not so much. Only the legs and thighs are even edible to me for a heat smoked chicken.

                              When they are grilled (maybe using a smoker box) they are rarely smoked much at all.

                              1. re: sedimental

                                Thanks. I'm unfamiliar with cold smoking.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  I have noticed there are few people here on CH that cold smoke much at all, even on the new BBQ board.

                                  It is a really nice technique for meat. I smoke my hamburger grind before grilling...mmmmmm.

                                  1. re: sedimental

                                    We come here to learn :) I like the idea of cold smoking the burger and all manner of other things that really aren't candidates for hot smoking. Plus the OP isn't asking how to cook the chicken but rather what to do with it knowing it's cold smoked. I think s/he is getting the picture.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      OP here, and yes, I am learning more than I expected!

                        2. re: c oliver

                          Actually cold smoking means a max. temp. of 100F, but preferably a max. temp. of 90F or less. Less being the key word.

                          I only cold smoke when the outdoor temps. are lower than 50F and I can keep the smoker at low temp. using an offset so that the heat from the smoke doesn't raise the smoker temp.

                    2. http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/index....

                      From this forum post, it sounds like the cold smoking is for flavor. It doesn't cook the bird.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: c oliver

                        In that thread what Gizmo and Habanero Smoker say, is what is relevent.

                        1. re: JMF

                          Yes, and with the caveat that it is very American style BBQ centric.

                      2. You might want to read what this forum has to say about the safety (not so much) of cold smoked chicken.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          That smokingmeatforums.com thread is kind of useless because none of the posters talk about what temp. it was smoked at and for how long.

                        2. What if you poach it? I'm thinking like my mom does for chicken and dumplings- you may get a really deep and flavorful broth since it was smoked

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                            Poaching sounds like a good option. That's probably what I will do

                            1. re: MrsBridges

                              But I'm wondering why not just roast it?

                          2. I have a lil chief smoker and cold smoke meats all the time. I prefer cold smoke to traditional BBQ because the meats used are " lean and clean" ....chicken, pork chops, tenderloins, turkey, burgers, etc. and you can cook them to your liking.

                            depending on the fuel used ( wood, tea, herbs, etc) most poultry is fully smoke flavored in about an hour....A whole chicken, maybe 2hours. It is not cooked. You need to grill or roast it.

                            Cold smoked meats are not in the danger zone for 4 hours, so no worries about safety.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: sedimental

                              Just out of curiosity, at what temp. and what amount of time are you cold smoking?

                              You are totally right on when you say, "Cold smoked meats are not in the danger zone for 4 hours, so no worries about safety"

                              1. re: JMF

                                I am totally scientific about it all......I watch it :)

                                The only criteria I use is that it doesn't cause the fat to melt at all. I am flavoring the meat as much as desired with the smoke. I am preserving the texture for the technique I am using (frying, roasting or braising typically).

                                For example, right this minute, I am smoking a Cornish hen. Spatchcocked, no brine, smoked with orange pekoe tea (and a cinnamon stick) and apple wood, then slathered in bergamot oil and Chinese 5 spice. It will rest in the fridge until dinner when I will roast it for crispy skin. I am serving it on a bed of (cold smoked) barley and wild mushroom risotto.

                                I have found (for my taste) that cold smoking allows for more creativity. I think that directly hot smoking poultry results in a white meat texture I don't like (including the brining) and it is hard to add layers of flavors that you want, during the process.

                            2. OK, some quick thoughts, and I may repeat myself.

                              I'd get back to the CSA and request some details. Was the bird delivered chilled or frozen?

                              What temp. did they smoke it at? I have never cold smoked chicken because hot smoking is quick and easy. But when I cold smoke uncured meats like a nice steak to grill, I like do it in winter when the outside temp. is less than 55F and I can keep the smoker under 90F, or preferably even under 60F.

                              You can cold smoke in warmer temps. as long as you can keep the smoker under 90F. This means using an offset for the smoke, and also may mean putting ice blocks in the smoker between the smoke source and the meats.

                              Uncured meats can be smoked as long as they aren't in the Food Temperature Danger Zone too long. Cured meats/fish can be cold smoked at up to 90F. for extended periods of time, even several days.

                              How long was it smoked? If it wasn't in the Food Temperature Danger Zone for too long then it is ok. 90F or less at two hours, then promptly chilled and kept chilled or frozen is ok.

                              What was it cured with? They said no nitrates. If the temp. is kept cool enough then an unbrined bird can be cold smoked if proper sanitation was followed prior to and after smoking. The smoke has sanitizing qualities itself.

                              As to cooking. What size is this bird? As others have said, unless it's a huge bird cooking 2 hours at 325F is way too long. 20 minutes per pound is about normal. And if it has been cured it needs less.

                              Oh, and the longer a cold smoked bird sits in the fridge or frozen, the more smoke flavor builds up.



                              20 Replies
                              1. re: JMF

                                Thanks for all the above info, JMF.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  I added some more info.

                                  For a Bradley, if you don't have the offset cold smoking attachment, you have to understand that the smoke generator will heat the unheated cabinet an additional 70F to whatever the outside temp. is.

                                  1. re: JMF

                                    Now THAT I did not know. So it's got to be dead winter before cold smoking without the attachment is feasible. Guess I won't be doing any cold smoked salmon any time soon.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      The attachment isn't that expensive, $60-70, but there are very inexpensive ways to make your own offset. Basically flexible 3-4" tubing 4-6 feet long, a cardboard box, and duct tape.


                                      Or for a few more bucks.


                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          IMO some one probably injected the poor bird with some sort of smoke flavored liquid.
                                          The idea of eating a bird that's 'smoked' isn't that appetizing. I'd toss it in the garbage.
                                          Cold smoking is a method of cooking and preserving meat, namely fish.
                                          "What's for dinner dear?" "Smoked chicken dear". "How about some KFC instead dear" "Sounds good dear".

                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                            Puffin3- Actually cold smoking, just to add smoke flavor, without injecting with a smoke flavoring, or brining, has been pretty popular in the high end restaurant scene, and with advanced level home smoke enthusiasts for at least since the 90's. While I haven't done it with chicken, I have done it with prime steaks, and thick and thin cut pork chops. Which were then let sit sealed for a day and finished on the grill, broiler, or breaded and fried with thinner pork chops. Very tasty.

                                            It may not be something you like. But it is a solid, valid, and very good preparation.

                                            1. re: JMF

                                              I've been 'cold smoking' salmon/halibut/ling cod/rock cod for forty years. At one time I did it commercially so I know about the process. I've never 'cold smoked' anything but fish.
                                              I'll drag out the 'little Chief' some day and try doing a pork chop or two.

                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                I'm quite sure I read here or elsewhere that cold smoked fish is actually uncooked fish whereas hot smoked fish is cooked.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  Yes, cold smoked is uncooked, but it's cured. The curing process "cooks" the fish before it goes in the smoker. That's why you can smoked it in the "danger zone" for up to several days.

                                            2. re: Puffin3

                                              So Mrs. Bridges, how did you prepare it and how did it come out?

                                              1. re: JMF

                                                I'm roasting it tonight (not following my previous consideration of poaching.). I will report results. (The bird was frozen at time of distribution. It was thawing in fridge while this discussion went on.)

                                                1. re: MrsBridges

                                                  Roasting would be much better than poaching. The poaching water would dilute the smoke flavor right out

                                              2. re: Puffin3

                                                You're making quite a few assumptions based on the limited info. given by the OP. How do you know it's injected? That is certainly not how you cold-smoke meats/seafood/fish/cheese. Smoked chicken is fabulous. I haven't had cold-smoked chicken but have had cold-smoked pork chops - divine! Cold-smoking is just a variation on smoking so that you can sauté, roast or cook it however you'd like rather than heat smoke it.

                                                As JMF said, it's a widely used method by pro chefs and smoke enthusiasts and not just with fish. It's certainly not some sort of low brow method/preparation.

                                                1. re: lynnlato

                                                  Thanks. I also don't understand where Puffin's negativity is coming from.

                                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                                    Here is the problem. Meat,seafood and cheese are things that although there maybe contamination all can be eaten raw or cooked rare to medium. I know not may will eat pork raw or rare but there is little trich in pork these days.

                                                    Chicken in this country needs to be cooked to at least 165 by the food police or 150-160 if you are adventurous. This does not include sous vide where being held at lower temperatures for extended periods of time will result in pasteurization at say 140.

                                                    Depending on the time to cold smoke the chicken is more susceptible than other proteins to significant bacterial contamination and growth.

                                                    Just seems to be a risky protein to cold smoke unless they are using one of those little smoke guns and just puffing some smoke around the chicken before it gets sealed and frozen.

                                                    I'll cold smoke a side of salmon for 2-3 hours and it's a lot thinner than a whole chicken.

                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                      I still think you are confusing ideas about cold smoking. It is no more "risky" than letting it sit out on your counter to come to temp before roasting ...or letting it sit out of the fridge with a rub, herbs, etc. on it before cooking as almost ALL restaurants do.

                                                      I know there are some people on CH that will throw meat away if it has been sitting out of the fridge for more than 15 minutes, but for most folks...a modicum of common sense prevails.

                                                      I always cook meat that has come to room temp. I never cook it cold from the fridge. I don't worry about an hour or two out of the fridge.

                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                        I have no misconceptions about cold smoking. It's a method I employ often

                                                        My concern was for the time it would take to infuse a decent amount of smoke to the meat at the temperatures that are often used during cold smoking

                                                        I'm sure you can stick a whole bird in a cold smoker and smoke it for an hour but how much penetration are you getting.

                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                          I totally geek out with fire and smoke ;)

                                                          One hour is plenty of time to smoke almost anything (like light meats). When I smoke a chicken for an hour and I use the carcass for soup stock...wow...smokey stock.

                                                          Huge hunks of beef (brisket) or huge pork butt still only need 2 to 3 hours to get really smokey for as far into the meat as it is going to, for most tastes. The rest of the time in the smoker is cook time. It is pretty common to wrap meat or oven finish meat (sans smoke) after only a few hours. It is still smokey all the way through. Tastes differ of course, on smoke level preference.

                                                          Temperature has little to do with penetration or absorption. It is about cell walls and texture. Sliced onions absorb cool smoke all the way through in 10 minutes, dried pinto beans are fairly smokey in 45 minutes but are not too smokey even after 2hours.

                                                          Smoke guns are very popular with chefs now. They blow cool smoke into a bowl then cover with Saran Wrap on the counter. Smokes the meat just fine. It is kinda fascinating to experiment with things :)

                                                          Edit: I have found there is a wide margin for smoke tolerance and taste. I am sensitive to it and don't like it to overpower the food at. all. But, when I made (what I thought) was a "lightly smoked" southwestern style chicken soup for a friend, she couldn't even eat it. Hated it! "Too smokey"... At least her partner gobbled it down and loved it :/

                                                      2. re: scubadoo97

                                                        I'm aware of alls the point you've made. That doesn't mean, however, that the CSA wasn't cautious and careful in preparing the chicken within those parameters. Also, some cold-smoke food while its held over ice so its kept at a safe temp. Hell, a new trend is cold smoking ice for bourbon. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about the process of cold-smoking. And I would point out that every day we trust that meat, seafood & poultry purveyors work within the food safety guidelines so I don't quite understand all the speculation about this purveyor.

                                                        After the chicken is cold-smoked you can then cook it to whatever temp you find safe. I would never cook it to 165 though. That's just too high for me.

                                      1. I roasted the chicken last night and it was a success! Having learned here that the smoking process added flavor without cooking the meat, I roasted it according to my usual method, i.e., the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook recipe for basic roast chicken. I rubbed it with a mixture of butter, herbs, S&P, cooked at 375 F for 40 minutes, then 450 until the internal temp was 160, about 30 minutes. The flesh was succulent and salty, which I infer means the chicken was brined. The skin had a delicious, crisp, smoky flavor.

                                        Thanks for all the tips and information here. I knew very little about smoking last week, so I appreciate everyone's shared knowledge. I'm unlikely to do any smoking myself, but I'm always glad to learn more about food preparation.