Because you're already planning that, right?
Smoked meats are SO great - we smoke a turkey a few times a year and it's perfect and delicious every time.
Smoking a whole bird is quite a time commitment, but smoking smaller pieces saves lots of time and can be easier to deal with than maneuvering a massive bird in and out of brine, the smoker, and your kitchen.
Salmonella is gross.
Smoked chicken pieces on the bone is wonderful for this time of year, and the best part about smoking is that you could fully cook the chicken way in advance and eat it reheated or cold when you're ready - it holds up really well!
Now, the reality of today's meat is that most of it is injected with a saline solution for flavor and moisture. Say what you will about add-ins like that, but salt tastes good, so I'm ok with it. Smoking is still a very drying process, however, so I'd still recommend doing the whole brining process if you have the extra day!
You'll need to start the bring 24 - 48 hours before you want to actually eat the chicken.
Here's what you need!
- bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (a mixture of dark and white meat is always lovely)
- blackening seasoning - make your own here, or buy some!
- 1 gallon of water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup salt
- olive oil
Hurray! Easy stuff. So, the chicken should be thawed, or at least partially so. It'll finish thawing in the brine.
Boil the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar together for 5 minutes until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add 3 cups ice to the mixture, and let it cool so it doesn't start to cook the chicken!
Place the chicken in the brine, and add more water as needed until the chicken is fully covered. How you do this is up to you - I have a massive bin that I use when I'm making a ton of this; for only one or two cut up chickens I use large mixing bowls, or even the pot I used to make the brine in! That's totally up to you.
Cover the chicken and the brine with a lid or plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 12 - 24 hours. Overnight works great!
When the brining process is complete, take the chicken out of the brine and let it drain on baking racks fitted inside of baking sheets. A roasting pan with a rack inside it works well for this too!
Throw out the nasty germ-infested brine, too. Thank you.
Place the chicken, racks, and pans BACK in the fridge for 4-12 hours UNCOVERED. This will allow excess brine to drain away and the chicken to not become soggy.
One or two hours before you're ready to start cooking, liberally coat the chicken with the blackening seasoning...
....then drizzle the pieces with olive oil to make a nice crust. Rub the seasonings in with your fingers.
When you're ready to start cooking, prepare your smoker to medium-low heat. or a grill for smoking over indirect heat. I like hickory wood, but apple is wonderful too!
Smoke the chicken for 1 - 2 hours - this all depends on the temperature of your smoker. After 45 minutes, take the chicken's temperature using a meat thermometer - don't let the tip touch the bone or your reading won't be accurate.
When the chicken is 160 - 170F, it's done! 165F is the "safe" temp for cooked chicken, and remember that smoked meats will cook another 5 - 10 degrees once they're out of the smoker, so don't fret too much about the internal temperature. Test the dark and white meat - the white might get done faster than the dark.
This, my friends, is smoked chicken. It's TOTALLY worth the effort, and because it takes awhile to cook you can have all the dishes done by the time you're eating delicious smoky flavorful chicken!
Enjoy this one. You'll love it!