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JackM

wood selection for smoked chicken

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What type of wood or mixture of woods is recommended for chicken? I smoked some thighs last night using only apple wood chunks on the KJ. Unfortunately, the resulting smoke flavor was overpowering and the thighs were inedible. Should I be mixing only a small amount of apple wood chunks with some other wood type? Also, the temperature would not exceed 300 degrees F with all vents fully open. Is this expected with apple wood?

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Chicken takes up a lot of smoke. Use just a few chunks of smoke wood mixed in with lump at the most. Apple would be fine just sounds like you used too much. 

 

With the top vent fully open you're letting all your heat escape and the kamado won't have a chance to heat up. You also will burn through a lot of lump that way. You need to get the coals going then start to close down the vents. Closing the top vent down a bit will trap the heat in the kamado and you're temperature will rise. 

 

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As Ck explained,  chicken and all poultry for that matter, is just a smoke sponge, soaking up every last bit of smoke you expose it to, often  along with carbon and a harsh acrid flavor. In my experience, it is very easy to over smoke chicken and other foods.  Personally, I rarely use any actual smoking wood at all when cooking chicken, Cornish hens, turkey, quail, etc. The flavor of these birds is so delicate and delightful, that wood smoke easily masks it. I find smoke on poultry is often more of a detractor than an enhancer. When it comes to smoke, the old adage of "less is more" really comes into play, IMO anyway.  If I add any smoke at all to a poultry cook, in excess to that which comes naturally from my hardwood lump, it is only a handful of rosemary and thyme sprigs thrown on the fire at the end of the cook to give a perfume finish to   the cooked bird. Herbs even when dry put out a nice oily smoke that is just right for all the poultry I mentioned above. I grow herbs and cut them fresh in season, and also keep the pruning clippings  from winter in bags to use dry. I also have trouble with chicken or other poultry cooked  at smoking temps of 250; as in my experience, this produces rubbery skin and mushy flesh. I much prefer poultry cooked at 375 to 425 and pulled at 165 in the breast. Hope this helps, and happy cooking. 

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Cooking chicken is one of the few times I'll advocate for using Applewood chips, spread over the top of the coal pile so they catch once in a while, flame up, and go out. Chunks risk an oversmoked product. TBH you could make chicken over straight lump and it would probably get a perfectly fine smoke profile.

 

Not sure why you can't get over 300; I like cooking chicken at 325-375 to get it out of the smoke faster and crisp up the skin and surface fat. Start another thread about that one. I'm guessing you're using the dome thermometer and it may not be very good.

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On 2/23/2019 at 10:05 AM, Shortyque said:

I agree with  Bgosnell151 on the pecan.  One small chunk.  Adds nice color to the meat.   (not sure what is up with the bold type)

Typicall when people agree with me, they stand out!!!!

 

***explanation of bold print***

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I have gotten to the point where I will only use one (small chunk) of peach or pecan with chicken.  Any more is too much smoke.  The last several times I have done thighs or a whole chicken, I have not used wood chunks at all.  The smoke from my rockwood charcoal has been plenty.   

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33 minutes ago, grill seeker said:

.......  The last several times I have done thighs or a whole chicken, I have not used wood chunks at all.  The smoke from my rockwood charcoal has been plenty.   

 

i'm about the same here, i find "smoked" chicken/poultry to have a putrid taste.

 

i like how the charcoal puts a flavor on poultry but my stomach litterally turns when is see a pic of poultry with that black/purple (ish) color from being smoked.  ate some smoked chicken once and the flavor still haunts me.

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If I use wood with chicken, it is a small chunk of cherry.  I like the color on the bird as well.

 

Most times, I cook chicken about 400F and don't use any wood.  Every once in a while, i like to cook it at a lower temp and use just a little smoke.

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