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packerfan66

smoking whole chickens

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So I have smoked. pork butts, seared Pork steaks and smoked some St, Louis style pork ribs. on my Akorn Kamado Kooker.  Now I want to smoke some chickens.  two questions. can I smoke a chicken whole and stuff the cavity with veggies and apples or is Spatchcock chicken the way I should go? And can I do multiple chickens in either method? Thanks for any advice  you can give.

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I think spatchcock it the way to go.  Be careful with your smoking wood; don't use too much and use something mild like cherry.  Pecan, hickory or mesquite to too much for chicken which absorbs smoke like crazy.  Heat deflector in my opinion is optional as long as you control the temp.  Maybe 275-300.  No water pan needed as Kamado's  do a good job of retaining moisture.

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Most confuse smoking a chicken with roasting a chicken over smoke. If you want it “smoked”, you should brine it and cook it around 250°F until it reaches 180°F in the thigh. I prefer to roast a spatchcocked bird at 350-400°F, indirect, over some light smoke from Pecan wood; Pecan is very mild and makes beautiful color on poultry. I also like to season my meat (under the skin) with something like Montreal Chicken and do a simple mix of equal parts kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and smoked paprika on the skin for that picture perfect skin. No flipping or fussing necessary, just get the heat settled and let it ride 45-60 minutes. 

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7 hours ago, Mr Cue said:

Most confuse smoking a chicken with roasting a chicken over smoke. If you want it “smoked”, you should brine it and cook it around 250°F until it reaches 180°F in the thigh. I prefer to roast a spatchcocked bird at 350-400°F, indirect, over some light smoke from Pecan wood; Pecan is very mild and makes beautiful color on poultry. I also like to season my meat (under the skin) with something like Montreal Chicken and do a simple mix of equal parts kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and smoked paprika on the skin for that picture perfect skin. No flipping or fussing necessary, just get the heat settled and let it ride 45-60 minutes. 

 

Spatchcock! Good Luck!

My spatchcock "roasted" turkey is very nearly as good as my fried turkey. This year I will brine both, versus Meathead's excellent recommendations. We will see! 

Mr Cue, thanks for the differentiation between roasting and smoking! Yah, I am typically roasting birds over smoke instead of smoking them. 

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On 7/15/2019 at 11:39 AM, packerfan66 said:

So I have smoked. pork butts, seared Pork steaks and smoked some St, Louis style pork ribs. on my Akorn Kamado Kooker.  Now I want to smoke some chickens.  two questions. can I smoke a chicken whole and stuff the cavity with veggies and apples or is Spatchcock chicken the way I should go? And can I do multiple chickens in either method? Thanks for any advice  you can give.

 

 

 Thanks everyone for the great tips. Spatchcock it is. I plan on Smoking two chickens ( on an Akorn Kamado Kooker) this weekend so the  tips will are appreciated. I have Apple and cherry wood to smoke with  (the wife will let me know which she wants. lol)  I have not done any brines yet. but I can appreciate the benefits. Hopefully I will remember to take pics before we dig in to them.   this has Been a great forum to get some  great tips and advise and education. Thanks again.

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A real simple brine that works well and tastes great is as follows. Spatchcock the birds first then place them in a large food safe bin that will fit on an empty shelf in your garage fridge.  The brine consists of apple cider (enough to cover the birds, I usually buy 4 large bottles for a 13 lb turkey.  1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup salt, one orange sliced, 4 sprigs of rosemary, 4 springs of thyme, and 6 Sage leaves tied into a bundle. Heat a large sauce pan with about 2 cups of apple cider and dissolve the salt and honey, then combine the contents of the pan, after it cools a bit, with the rest of the apple cider cold and straight from the fridge. You want the brine cold and below 40 degrees the entire time it is on the chickens. Does the trick for me, delivers a nice moist bird and gives poultry and pork a really nice flavor. 

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I much prefer roasted vs. smoked chooks.  Nothing beats the nice crisp skin and flavor that can be attained IMHO.

 

Also, some woods are harder to use with chicken than others.  It takes an experienced hand to get the roasted bird "just right" with hickory for example.  "Regular" smoke with hickory, such as you might use on pork,  will turn out very harsh or bitter.  A very LIGHT hickory taste is wonderful and not something you get on chicken every day.


Tom

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4 hours ago, T_om said:

I much prefer roasted vs. smoked chooks.  Nothing beats the nice crisp skin and flavor that can be attained IMHO.

 

Also, some woods are harder to use with chicken than others.  It takes an experienced hand to get the roasted bird "just right" with hickory for example.  "Regular" smoke with hickory, such as you might use on pork,  will turn out very harsh or bitter.  A very LIGHT hickory taste is wonderful and not something you get on chicken every day.


Tom

I agree with this. I have found that smoked chicken easily becomes mushy while roasted chicken consistently retains a nice bite, along with super moist flesh.  Texture and moist but firm meat, is the key to perfect chicken. Also on the smoke question, In my experience chicken and pretty much all poultry is a smoke sponge soaking up every bit of smoke you put on it. IMO chickens are easily and often over smoked. Over smoked chicken tastes harsh and sharp to me. As a result I seldom if ever use smoking wood. My go to if I want some smoke perfume is o toss about 3 or 4 fresh sprigs of mixed rosemary and thyme  on the coals at the end of my chicken or Thanksgiving turkey.  

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1 hour ago, keeperovdeflame said:

I agree with this. I have found that smoked chicken easily becomes mushy while roasted chicken consistently retains a nice bite, along with super moist flesh.  Texture and moist but firm meat, is the key to perfect chicken. Also on the smoke question, In my experience chicken and pretty much all poultry is a smoke sponge soaking up every bit of smoke you put on it. IMO chickens are easily and often over smoked. Over smoked chicken tastes harsh and sharp to me. As a result I seldom if ever use smoking wood. My go to if I want some smoke perfume is o toss about 3 or 4 fresh sprigs of mixed rosemary and thyme  on the coals at the end of my chicken or Thanksgiving turkey.  

I will now be trying the rosemary and thyme like you mentioned. I usually throw in one small chunk of cherry and have been happy with the results, but I can imagine the herbs will be even better!

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1 hour ago, buckleybj said:

I will now be trying the rosemary and thyme like you mentioned. I usually throw in one small chunk of cherry and have been happy with the results, but I can imagine the herbs will be even better!

I throw in a bundle during the last 10 minutes before I pull the bird. The amount of smoke does not actually  smoke the chicken but perfumes it and gives it an aromatic essence. My family loves the smell when I bring the Thanksgiving Turkey to the table to carve. In an enclosed room the aromatic essence really stands out. 

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On 7/18/2019 at 12:06 AM, Mr Cue said:

Most confuse smoking a chicken with roasting a chicken over smoke.

And I don't see anyone telling you how to smoke a chicken. Even @Mr Cue only gave smoking one line in his reply. The one thing we will all agree on is brining, be it wet or dry (rub). It's more important than everything else, combined. However, you will not be able to use pan drippings for gravy; it's too salty. 

 

I smoke turkey breasts regularly. My family won't eat dark meat. I brine the meat overnight in a solution of equal parts salt, sugar and black pepper corns, about 1/2 cup each per gallon of brine. I simmer the seasonings in water to dissolve them, and allow the pepper corns to turn the water black. Cool and dilute before using.   

 

I suggest you try this "classic" brine as it's flavor is very neutral allowing the poultry flavor to dominate. Highly flavored brines can go the other way, masking the poultry with their strong flavors. That may be desirable, but I don't think it's a good starting place. 

 

When smoking poultry, you give up eating the skin. Poultry skin will be trash if you properly smoke the bird. It's job is sacrificial, to protect the meat. I smoke breast-up, with the skin pulled down over very bit of exposed meat. I want the skin to take the greatest heat, so the fat under it renders during the cook. Skin will also absorb smoke, so the meat takes on a subtle flavor. 

 

The secret to tender juicy meat requires understanding of cooking target temperatures. Conventional wisdom says you need 165 F in the breast and 175 F in the dark meat. These are the correct targets for smoke-roasting in 45-60 minutes. The FDA determined these targets based on the assumption you'd end cooking as soon as the target is reached, so there would be no dwell time. That overcooks the meat. 

 

For milk, the FDA has many pasteurization options, combinations of time and temperature. You can use 161 F for 15 seconds (HTST), or 145 F for 30 min. (120x longer).  It turns out milk isn't unique; the approach works anytime you're killing bacteria. 

 

Therefore I smoke turkey low and slow, just like a brisket. In fact, I just did turkey and brisket last week. Both were cooked low-n-slow at about 225 F. They both took 2 hours to hit 150 F internal, and they both stalled at that temperature. The third hour took the turkey up to 155 F, where I pulled it, wrapped in foil and stuffed in a cooler wrapped in towels. Half hour later, it had just fallen to 150 F. That gave me 90 minutes hold time above 150 F, well beyond FDA requirements. 

 

It also takes about 5 hours, from fire start to service. Spatchcocked, smoke-roasted birds will be ready to eat in more like 2 hours, you'll be able to eat the skin, and the meat will seem very good... until you smoke one. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

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So I smoked a couple of spatched chickens Yesterday for dinner. They turned out great. The wife  and kids loved them. I did smoke them a bit longer. I forgot to let the Kamado rise to temp before I threw the chickens on so I thought I should let them cook a little longer. the temp was about 250 when I put them on.  But I could have still just let them smoke for the 1 or 1 1/2hr normal time.  MY temp ranged from 350 to 400. Once it got up to temp.  But like I said they still turned out great.  I do like the spatchcock method. it's easy and the chicken was moist and delicious.  The wife said she liked it this way as well. So I think I will smoke chicken this way in the future. next time i will try it with a brine.  Thanks again for all the tips and help.

smoke chick.jpg

smoke chick2.jpg

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