The challenge that comes with chicken is cooking it in a way that it has enough flavor that people want to eat it! That’s where charcoal and smoke come in. Meat is just better when it has been cooked on a seasoned grill or smoker and bathed in plumes of hickory, cherry, apple, pecan – or whatever your favorite wood selection is. When it comes to chicken, I prefer apple or cherry.
2 foil pans
Apple wood – chunks or soaked chips
Needs to reach an internal temperature of 165
12 chicken drumsticks
12 chicken thighs
1 bottle of Balsamic Herb marinade
Garlic Pepper Western Grill’n Rub from Hi Mountain Seasonings
- Put out both foil pans and place a dozen thighs in one and a dozen legs in the other. Shake a generous amount of Garlic Pepper Western Grill’n Rub directly onto the chicken, and if needed rub it in so it will stick to the skin. Then, split the bottle of marinade, pouring half over one pan and half over the other. Cover with foil and put in the refrigerator to sit anywhere from an hour to overnight.
- An hour before you are ready to cook, pull your chicken out and let it sit at room temperature. Prepare your grill for a long slow cook at 225 °F. Chicken thighs and legs generally take 3 to 4 hours to reach the desired internal temperature of 165 °F so add enough charcoal accordingly.
When it comes to wood you don’t want to over smoke your chicken. Add 2-3 handfuls of soaked chips per hour and then stop half way through your cook. Personally, I prefer chunks. I add a couple large chunks at the start and then I don’t have to open the lid for the duration of the cook. Too much smoke goes from being a pleasant flavor to bitter and overpowering, so don’t overdo it.
- Once your grill/smoker is preheated to 225 °F and you are getting nice clean smoke billowing out the top, it’s time to throw the chicken on. My Weber Summit Charcoal Grill is plenty big enough to handle 24 pieces of chicken, however make sure yours can. Place them on the grate, but don’t let them touch. You want a little room all the way around them. It will be easier to manipulate them with tongs if necessary and they will also be able to get great color all the way around if they aren’t touching. If you have a heat resistant meat thermometer, now is the time to stick it in one of the biggest thighs being careful to avoid touching the bone. My Weber iGrill 2 gives me the ability to run more than one probe so I can put one in the biggest thigh and also the biggest leg and monitor the temperature without opening the lid. Close the lid now and let those chicken pieces do their thing.
- Once your meat has reached an internal temp of 160 °F open the grill and baste the legs and thighs with your favorite barbeque sauce. Close the lid and let the chicken continue to cook until it reaches the target temperature of 165 °F and the barbecue sauce has caramelized on top. Be careful not to exceed that target temp too much, or you’ll risk drying them out.
- Pull all the chicken pieces off and put them on a tray to sit for a few minutes. Then rally the troops, set the table and dig in!
Winner winner, smoked chicken dinner.
Happy eating y’all.