Things You'll Need
Whole chicken fryer or roaster
Large bag natural lump charcoal
Electric charcoal starter iron
5 pounds hardwood smoking chips (hickory and apple recommended for poultry)
2 gallons water
2 large mixing bowls
1 cup salt
1 cup sugar
Whole chickens prepared in Brinkmann smokers bear intense, smoky flavor imparted by charcoal and natural hardwood chips. Brinkmann manufactures various smoker types, with the Smoke 'N Grill and Cook 'N Ca'jun models among the most common. These produce a classically smoked final product. Whole chickens benefit from a brining process prior to actual smoking that helps keep the flesh from drying out.
Brining the Chicken and Preparing Wood Chips
Mix one gallon of the water with the salt and sugar in the large mixing bowl or bucket, stirring vigorously until all grains dissolve. This is the brining solution.
Place the whole chicken in the solution, ensuring the bowl is deep and narrow enough to completely submerge the bird. Mix up and add more brining solution if the chicken crowns above the water line.
Cover the mixing bowl with an air-tight lid or tightly stretched plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Place wood chips on the second mixing bowl at least an hour prior to lighting the coals. Pour the second gallon of water in with the chips, completely submerging the wood.
Smoking on an Upright Brinkmann Smoker
Cure the smoker prior to first use following the manufacturer's recommendations. This provides a protective coating in the smoking chamber, inhibiting rust.
Remove the lid, cooking grates and water pan, and set the items aside.
Fashion a drip pan from a square piece of foil by folding up the edges of a 1-foot-square sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place this on the bottom of the main smoking chamber.
Open the silver door on the outside of the smoker body and ensure the charcoal pan is seated securely on all three legs below the pan.
Place about six pounds of charcoal into the charcoal pan, gather the coals into a mound in the center and bury an electric charcoal starter iron in the coals before plugging in the device.
Keep the starter in the charcoal for about eight minutes, until coals begin to smoke and crackle.
Wait 10 to 20 minutes to allow charcoal to thoroughly catch. Coals are ready when covered in a thin layer of gray ash.
Place the water pan back onto the support brackets above the charcoal pan, and carefully fill it with water to one inch below the rim, avoiding spills onto the lit coals below.
Place one cooking grate back into the smoker, and place the whole brined chicken atop the grate before closing the dome lid.
Toss two handfuls of wet hardwood smoking chips atop the lit coals and close the silver fuel door.
Add a handful or two of wet wood chips every 30 minutes, and add enough water and charcoal to keep the pans full, usually every two to three hours. Whole chickens smoke in about five hours at 250 degrees.
Wet wood chips produce more smoke and burn longer for the sustained smoking process, so never skip the chip soaking. For different flavors, experiment with various types of hardwood smoking chips, including hickory, apple, cherry and mesquite.
Always use fire-resistant cooking mitts when feeding coals or chips into the fire, and handle meat with long, grilling-style cooking tongs to avoid burns. Use only chips from hardwood trees. Pine and other coniferous woods contain oils that ruin the meat's flavor and impart toxins into food.