Smoking a chicken is a great alternative to roasting or grilling. Gas smokers make it easy to regulate the cooking temperature. With just a few easy preparation steps, you will turn out juicy birds that will have everyone coming back for more.
Things You'll Need
- Gas smoker
- Wood chips
- Chicken -- whole, quartered or thighs
- Dry rub
- Meat thermometer
Buy a chicken marked "organic" or "all-natural" at yor grocery store or butcher shop. These have a lower water content. Depending on the occasion, you can choose whole chickens or get them in quarters or just thighs. Purchase chicken with skin because it will help keep the moisture in the meat and also help produce a great outside crust.
Brine the chicken. Brining is a simple method of soaking a chicken in salt, sugar and water for at least four hours. Use 1 cup of sugar and salt to every gallon of water. If you would like to add more flavor, try juice, wine or other spices. When the chicken has been in the brine for four hours, remove and pat dry with paper towels.
Season your chicken generously with any dry rub you prefer. It can be as simple as salt and pepper. A simple dry rub is: ¼ cup salt, ¼ cup black pepper, ¼ cup paprika, ¼ cup brown sugar. Remember to apply to the outside as well as to the inside cavity of the chicken, if using a whole bird.
Prepare your smoke according the manufacturer's directions. Gas smokers use lava rocks as their heating source. Place the wood chips, hickory or mesquite, directly on the lava rocks. If you are using whole chickens place breast side down, after about 1½ hours turn them breast side up so you do not dry out the breast meat. If you are using chicken quarters or thighs, place your meat in a single layer so that the pieces don't touch. This allows the smoke to better penetrate all sides of the meat.
Check your meat with a meat thermometer before you remove from the smoker. Chicken needs to reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit. For whole chickens, this should take about four hours, chicken quarters three hours, and for thighs just 1½ hours.
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