OR, something like THAT! It seemed an oddly appropriate way to begin the week by giving up the GreatQ4U! secrets about how we do CHICKEN! Which applies really to ALL poultry…with some adaptations necessary in certain circumstances; Turkeys don’t fit on beer cans…so use a tray and Cornish Game Hens or Squab….DON’T try to stretch them over a can….that would be HORRIBLE!!! – We use a clean towel soaked in stock and herbs then stuffed into their cavity!
ALL that said…we call our version ”Beer Can STYLE Chicken” because we don’t actually use BEER…or Beer CANS for that matter! Instead we use vessels about half full of our own, scratch made chicken stock with fresh torn herbs in it…typically Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Oregano…but whatever’s fresh will do! Alas…I am putting the CAN before the CHICKEN here!!!
We choose ‘thick’ Chickens for the majority of our smoking…normally about 6-7lb roasters…if you use a smaller chicken, you need to baste (in my opinion) to keep it from drying out entirely during the smoking process! We separate the skin top and bottom and then hand rub with a bit of Olive Oil and our Chicken Rub. My ‘Friends and Family’ birds get whole sage leaves under the skin. Then we give that bird a massage on top of the skin to make sure that all our spices are evenly distributed and down into the meat. Finally, a light coat of oil or butter on the outside of the bird to get the skin some color and facilitate even heating!
THEN…it’s off to the cooking vessel…same rules as cooking ANY whole chicken apply…tuck the wings and if you must…truss it prior to hitting the ‘can’…but the can itself will help to keep the bird positioned well for cooking…thick breasts on top, thinner legs lower. Set her on the smoker and then LEAVE it ALONE!!! Typically our bigger birds cook for 5-6 hours, if you’re using a smaller bird and/or higher temps…obviously that would vary!
Cook to an internal temp deep down in the breast and thigh of about 170ºF and then as with all other protiens…off the heat and allow to rest a bit before serving! You should notice a nice chestnut color on the skin and smell the fresh herbs which will have spent the last several hours ‘infusing’ into the meat along with your smoke!
If you’re competing…the ‘IN’ cut today is the thigh which is a GREAT piece to cook, but requires LOTS of practice to dial it in just right. It’s not MY favorite way to smoke chicken (broken down) BUT it’s what the judges like…I’ll post a few more thoughts on ‘Competition Chicken’ in the near future…for now we’ll stick to the dinner table!
Ah…the SMOKE…we typically use a Maple or Cherry with some Hickory when cooking Poultry…but again it’s ALL about personal tastes and whatever YOU like…just start experimenting and find out what works for you! You’ll enjoy the journey for sure and testing makes LOTS of tasty new friends! – Get out and smoke…don’t be Chicken!!!