Usually smoking and bbqing (not grilling) are best left to the professionals. To really create the perfect smoking environment takes real wood, patience, and usually a seasoned brick pit. But do not be dismayed, for with a little rigging of your traditional grill, you too can create delicious smoked food. This can be prepared on a gas grill (our choice) or charcoal. Temperature control is key, and can be more difficult on charcoal.
Today we will be using our favorite cut of meat, the halved chicken. You can usually find these in your grocery store coolers, or you can simply cut a whole chicken in half, removing the backbone. The other secret is brining. We like to always brine our chicken – even if it is only for a few hours and sometimes up to 24. Then just let the smoke go low and slow over the meat, and a couple of hours later we have delicious and tender smoked chicken.
4 Chicken halves, medium sized – NOT LARGE
1 bag of hickory wood chips
1 disposable Aluminum Half Pan
1 Gallon of Water
1 Stalk of Rosemary
1 Stalk of Thyme
7 Cloves of Garlic
2 tblsp of Peppercorns
1/2 Cup of Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup of Sugar
Zest both lemons, and squeeze remaining juice into a big stock pot. Mix remaining ingredients into pot using some warm water to start to make sure all salt and sugar dissolves. Submerge all chicken in pot, and refrigerate overnight.
Take half pan and use sharp knife to make small slits in the bottom of the pan. Next fill pan with wood chips and sprinkle lightly with water.
Turn grill on high, and heat up for about 20 minutes. Place pan of chips on one side of the grill and close top. Wait about 15 minutes until chips are smoking and turn off all of the grill except for the element under the chips pan.
Place the chicken halves, skin side up, on the portion of the grill that is now turned off and close the grill. Maintain a steady supply of smoke by monitoring the chips and adding more as needed.
After approximately 90-120 minutes, test the chicken for doneness by pulling the leg. If it easily separates from the thigh, then the chicken is ready. If it is still stiff, and does not separate easily, continue smoking until it will pull apart with ease.
Slow and low is the principle here, and the smoking just adds flavor. Brining before hand will ensure juicy, flavorful meat. We did nothing to the finished product other than plate and serve. Enjoy chicken at home like the pro’s!