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Split chicken leg quarters?


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I've been "volunteered" to make some sort of smoked meat thing for an office lunch. My plan is to get leg quarters (cheaper) and split them, brine, rub, and smoke around 325 or so with some apple juice and honey spritzing with apple wood smoke. Has anyone done this and is there anything to look out for? I know splitting the legs before cooking will be a little harder than after cooking and want to try and avoid chopping bones if I can. Also I have a 2-probe thermometer, so assuming one probe is on the grate do I use the meat probe for a drumstick or a thigh? Thanks for any suggestions.

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There are just my thoughts.  There are any number of ways to get excellent results.

 

I buy leg quarters all the time and break them down.  I love doing boneless thighs.  It isn't hard to do, but a boning knife helps and it takes some practice.   I found it easiest to remove the backbone, then separate the leg and thigh.  If you don't remove that, the drumstick will cook much faster than the thigh.   If you want to fancy up the presentation, you can french the drumsticks and make lollipops.  If using a meat probe, I would probably stick it in the thigh.

 

325F will work, but you won't have very crispy skin at that temp.  If you want crispy go a little hotter.  Also, be careful with the amount of wood you add.  1 decent chunk should be enough.  Poultry can really soak up the smoke. 

 

I normally don't brine or spritz chicken, but that is just personal preference.  If I want some smoke on it, I toss a small chunk of wood on when the grill gets to about 250 and add the food then.  I let it smoke while the grill comes up to 400F and I roast it there until about 165F internal temp.  I like the texture a little better when cooked at a higher temp. 

 

Have fun and enjoy the cook. Kamados do wonderful things to chicken.

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Therse are just my thoughts as well. First, there are a lot of great recommendations given above. 

 

I find that smoke is a deeply personal preference. And, I tend to fall on the more is better- especially given that what @Panchango probably refers to as "Poultry can really soak up the smoke", more than likely seems like non-existent smoke to those of us who come from an Offset background. In fact, it is extremely difficult to replicate what I think is a good level on smoke on a kamado given the combination of a significant reduction in airflow, fuel burned and cleaner burning lump. I am neither saying his preference is wrong or that mine is right. Simply, know your and your guests preference. If you come from that offset / stickburner background, maybe add a little more wood chunks, if not, go with his sound advice. If you are cooking at 325° or above, the amount of time the chicken is cooking is not conducive to it taking on a lot of smoke either, imo.

 

Also, I typically smoke chicken for longer than what you are planning and I do use 325° - 350° to finish the chicken and crisp the skin. Perhaps its the type of rub or brining technique used but, I do achieve a crisp bite-through skin at that temp range. One thing I do is add a little Avacado oil to my spritz which helps with that. If I do not plan to spritz, as I didn't on Sunday, I utilize a combination of dry brine and air dry (Chicken  placed on a pan and left uncovered in refrigerator for at least 24hrs). I also do not sauce, which may be a factor.

 

Separating the chicken should be of no concern either- simply find the joint (where the 'knee' would bend) with your thumb and index finger and slice through it. Zero chance of hitting a bone doing that.

 

 

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Ah thanks... I'm a little wary about the amount of smoke, as in an early test run I did some drummies by themselves with about half a chunk and the residual smoke of the lump and it seemed to soak it up pretty well, although the smoke effect was light. Didn't get mahogany-skinned smoked chicken but I wasn't looking for that either. By contrast with my packer brisket I had about 50% wood in the pit and it seemed like it didn't catch much smoke at all. Kamados are really different compared to offsets or water smokers, where it seems easier to manage the smoke seasoning.

 

I brine chicken because I think I like to cook it a little more than most people and brining protects me from dryness. It's an insurance policy. If I was a better poultry cook I might forego it.

 

I think for the skin I might just let the pit climb by itself to around 375 at the finish and put some Alabama white sauce on. I'm still having a hard time controlling the temp on an Akorn when the lid opens; seems I gain about 20 degrees every time this happens. At least here it can work to my advantage.

 

Also forgot: planning to use a leg rack for the drumsticks and a rib rack for the thighs so maybe I can avoid having to open the thing all the time. I'm hoping I can get enough exposed surface area to help dry the skin a bit more than flipping.

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1 hour ago, Ogopogo said:

By contrast with my packer brisket I had about 50% wood in the pit and it seemed like it didn't catch much smoke at all. 

 

Also forgot: planning to use a leg rack for the drumsticks and a rib rack for the thighs so maybe I can avoid having to open the thing all the time. I'm hoping I can get enough exposed surface area to help dry the skin a bit more than flipping.

 

Dude! you've got me beat by... several percent. :-D

 

Interesting, I've never found the need to flip. Observation only- just typing out loud. I read about it often related to kamado smoking and smoking in particular. Over direct coals yes, in the smoker, I don't see the point. Maybe I'm doing something wrong. :-D

 

Good luck with the cook!

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On 6/22/2018 at 4:29 PM, Ogopogo said:

I've been "volunteered" to make some sort of smoked meat thing for an office lunch. My plan is to get leg quarters (cheaper) and split them, brine, rub, and smoke around 325 or so with some apple juice and honey spritzing with apple wood smoke. Has anyone done this and is there anything to look out for? I know splitting the legs before cooking will be a little harder than after cooking and want to try and avoid chopping bones if I can. Also I have a 2-probe thermometer, so assuming one probe is on the grate do I use the meat probe for a drumstick or a thigh? Thanks for any suggestions.

 

How'd thing turn out?

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2 hours ago, ske1eter said:

 

How'd thing turn out?

 

I thought they were overcooked, but they were a big hit. Learned some interesting stuff: using water in the diffuser screws with my grate-level temperature readings, and overcrowding the main grate causes charring at the edges (in the gap where the deflector ends). I used white sauce to finish for about 15 minutes and it worked out quite well. Still didn't get a big smoke profile even though I used about 6 big chunks of apple; didn't want to go with hickory since I think it lends a bit of a hammy flavor to poultry. So overall, big success to the eaters, but there's still a lot of room for improvement.

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1 hour ago, Ogopogo said:

 

I thought they were overcooked, but they were a big hit. Learned some interesting stuff: using water in the diffuser screws with my grate-level temperature readings, and overcrowding the main grate causes charring at the edges (in the gap where the deflector ends). I used white sauce to finish for about 15 minutes and it worked out quite well. Still didn't get a big smoke profile even though I used about 6 big chunks of apple; didn't want to go with hickory since I think it lends a bit of a hammy flavor to poultry. So overall, big success to the eaters, but there's still a lot of room for improvement.

 

 

Glad to hear. Us cooks are our own worse critics. ;D Good to hear it turned out well.

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2 hours ago, Ogopogo said:

 

I thought they were overcooked, but they were a big hit. Learned some interesting stuff: using water in the diffuser screws with my grate-level temperature readings, and overcrowding the main grate causes charring at the edges (in the gap where the deflector ends). I used white sauce to finish for about 15 minutes and it worked out quite well. Still didn't get a big smoke profile even though I used about 6 big chunks of apple; didn't want to go with hickory since I think it lends a bit of a hammy flavor to poultry. So overall, big success to the eaters, but there's still a lot of room for improvement.

 

That's kind of what I was referring to: cooking @ or above 325° for chicken; it isn't in the smoker long enough, imo, to develop much of a smoke profile. Then again, you can't go straight from cooking and eing around the smoke to tasting and have a good sense of the smoke. Much in the same way that coffee beans are used being sampling colognes or a musician will take a decent break from mixing music, I find it necessary to clean out my nose (literally) before I am able to really identify how much smoke is or isn't present in a cook.

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