Have you smoked anything lately?
Me, I’ve been smoking chicken.
A big — and I do mean big (nearly 7 pounds!) — whole chicken. 🙂
Well, I say “me.” When we do anything that involves the grill, my beloved is usually involved, as well.
We love our grill. We have a propane grill on our back deck — and our deck has a roof — and so are able to grill pretty much year ’round, if we so desire.
Grilling often makes for easy meals, such as the one we’re having tonight: smoked chicken, steamed mini ears of corn on the cob, bleu cheese coleslaw, and homemade mini bread loaves from yeast roll dough leftover from Friday.
Minimal effort. Maximum flavor.
When we looked at the weather forecast yesterday (high around 68F/20C — I think we got a little above, actually), we decided that today would be a good day to smoke a chicken we’ve had in the freezer.
A few months ago, I came across two large — each nearly 7 pounds — whole chickens reduced half-price for quick sale. I snapped them up and stuck them in my freezer. With high hopes, I baked one of them in a baking bag (which is supposed to assure tenderness and juiciness), along with a lot of delicious fresh vegetables, and although it smelled incredibly yummy, alas, the chicken was tough, chewy, and stringy. 😦
Hubby and I vowed then and there that we would smoke the remaining chicken on our grill, as we figured that would give a better chance for the chicken to come out flavorful, moist, and tasty.
One can purchase what is called a “smoker,” which has the sole purpose of smoking meat. However, seeing as we already have a propane grill, I saw little point in investing funds for a smoker. Besides, my prior experience in working with smokers wasn’t a positive one.
But after watching someone (sorry, I can’t remember who!) smoking a chicken on the FoodNetwork, hubby and I had a major hankering to try smoking some meat. Not long after, I saw a “smoker box” for an exceedingly affordable price (under $10 US), which is simply a heavy-duty box with a grilled-type lid on it. To use it, you soak wood chips (there’s often a variety available — hickory and such) in water for at least four hours or so, ‘though you can do it overnight, as well. Then, when you’re ready to smoke your meat (whole chickens, whole turkeys, bone-in turkey breast, and beef brisket naturally come to mind), you
- Put your meat on a rack on a pan (we use a heavy-duty disposable aluminum pan) and season it as you desire,
- Place the pan on one side of the grill,
- Fill the smoker box with the soaked wood chips — plus water to cover! — and place the lid on the smoker box,
- Place the smoker box on the other side of your grill,
- Have the heat on only under the side of the grill with the smoker box (this works best with a propane grill), and
- Close the lid on your grill and wait.
Smoking cooks and flavors meat with indirect heat, which is why you have the heat on under the smoker box, but not under the pan with the meat. The smoke generated by the damp wood chips in reaction to the heat inside the grill help flavor the meat.
You want to keep seasonings very, very simple. For this chicken, I sprinkled on some coarse ground sea salt and coarse ground black pepper. That’s it. Oh, and we poured a bottle of beer into the bottom of the pan (the chicken is on a rack).
Trust us, the beer adds something.
Smoke for about as long — and maybe longer — than you would if you were roasting or baking the meat. This is a “low and slow” process.
But boy oh boy, is it easy! Hubby and I have spent the afternoon sitting on the back deck playing Rummi-Kub whilst our supper cooks — er, smokes. 🙂
And it sure smells yummy, too!