Monday, June 25, 2012

Smoked Chicken

Yes meat fans. It's here. The day has arrived to have some smoked chicken.

I am a huge beef fan. Growing up in southern Alberta, home of the best beef in the world, it's hard not to be a fan of a nice big red juicy steak. So why am I gushing over smoked chicken? Probably because this was the first recipe I perfected on the kamado, and I don't see myself being able to do it anywhere else with this level of success. A steak is great cooked over an open fire. It's great cooked on a BBQ too, gas or charcoal. But this smoked chicken wouldn't have the same flavor in a standard BBQ. It would be great over an open flame too, but not as good as this. So let's get to it.

chicken parts on counter
My chicken was picked up just yesterday, whole and fresh from the farmers market, although you can always pick up a fresh or frozen bird from your local grocer, or even just parts. I recommend getting your chicken bone-in and skin-on for the best flavor and most tender meat. If you do pick up a whole chicken, you could smoke it as a whole chicken too, though your times would vary from mine. I break down my chicken into the individual pieces before I add the spice rub. To break it down, follow Alton Brown's method on youtube. Don't forget to make home-made chicken stock from the leftover carcass!

chicken breast with spice rub
Once separated, I add a generous amount of my chicken rub to the parts and let them sit for a while. You can use a plastic bag, but I am still happy with the quick marinator for my vacuum sealer. Though I'm not looking for a quick marinate, I actually left the rub on overnight. Try for a minimum of 2 hours, and aim for around 4 hours of soaking in the rub for best flavor. More is always best.

jar of Sean's Smoked Chicken Rub
Sean's Smoked Chicken Rub

1 Cup sea salt
1 Cup brown sugar
1 Cup white sugar
1/4 Cup ground sage
1/4 Cup dried thyme
12 Bay leaves, crushed
2 Tbsp corn starch

Combine all the ingredients and blend together. Store in a mason jar or other airtight container and enjoy the best smoked chicken you will find.

Unlike the BBQ ribs and many other smoke meats, chicken doesn't take a long time to cook. 1 1/2 to 2 hours of time is all you need to cook it before digging in.

Your choice of smoke chips will affect the flavor you end up with too. I choose to use applewood for the chicken and I always like the results. Heavier chips like mesquite and hickory would be tasty too, but in less quantity. For a whole chicken, broken down, I use about 1/2 of my smoker box full of wood chips, all soaked for at least 30 minutes in water.

chicken parts on bbq
The Start
Once my kamado is lit and ready to go, I clean off the stainless steel grill and place the chicken on the top rack, skin side down. Set the temperature for around 225°F (110°C).

wireless meat thermometer
temperature probe in chicken
Temperature Probe in the Chicken
For chicken and other large meats like roasts, I have been using a remote meat thermometer. It makes  taking the temperature much easier, and will save you time and flavor. They can range from $20-$40 bucks, though most I've seen in the local hardware stores seem to be made by the same manufacturer with different brands on the box. For longer smoked items like ribs, there isn't a big concern with under-cooking them, and as long as the temperature is low and you continue to baste those items, they won't overcook either. With chicken, under-cooking can be a big problem, and overcooking will ruin the tender juicy goodness of the meat too. You could check the temperature the old fashioned way with a standard thermometer (I usually prefer old-fashioned ways) but doing so means you lift the lid which vents all the smoke (and flavor) and cools the kamado down too. So these little remote units are pretty handy.

The cooking time of 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours is, of course, an estimate. The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 79°C. This is lucky too, because much longer to cook this chicken might result in guests getting dehydrated from drooling over the smell of this stuff. Let the chicken rest once you've taken it off the grill for about 10 minutes and serve.

I'm going to find it hard to experiment with other chicken recipes and ideas because I enjoy this one SO much. It has all the qualities of a great chicken dinner. Still, the idea of smoky maple, smoky teriyaki, and a smoky honey garlic linger in my mind. And of course I will introduce you to the kamado version of my fry-pan surprise favorite: BBQ cheese chicken... another day.

cooked chicken parts on grill
The Finished Product

1 Chicken, whole, broken down, or 8-10 chicken parts
Applewood smoke chips 
Sean's Smoked Chicken Rub
Remote meat thermometer (for ideal results)

Cover the chicken parts with a liberal amount of chicken rub and refrigerate for 2-4 hours, or more. Prepare your kamado for 225°F and applewood smoke chips. Cook the chicken, skin side down, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the internal temperature measures 79°C with a meat thermometer. Remove from heat, let rest for 10 minutes, then grab a fork and fend off all other contenders while you claim all the chicken for yourself.
Smoked chicken on a dinner plate
To the Griller Go the Spoils


  1. Loving the blog and the recipies! I fell in love with smoking meats last summer and although I don't have your cool smokin' grill (which I did put some pressure on my wife to buy) I am looking forward to trying some of your rubs!

    Kevin B.

    1. Thanks Kevin! Good to hear from you. It shouldn't be too hard to convince your dear wife for one of these. They actually replace your gas/propane BBQ, they make awesome smoked meats and beef jerky, and you can even bake on them (pizza or bread). They aren't the cheapest BBQ's on the market, but Lowes sells a small one for under $400, and even Costco carries the Vision Grills Kamado for $600, though I would hold out for the Kamado Pro at Canadian Tire when it goes on sale. Just tell her that barbequing outdoors during the hot summer months keeps the heat of cooking outside of the house!