In perhaps the best smoking day so far in 2010 I smoked some bbq chicken quarters this afternoon. The weather was perfect, cloudy with a ever so subtle breeze and that was it, no sun, no gales to contend with just cloudy skies and a faint breeze, made smoking so very effortless. So here is how it went down, chicken was on sale this week and I have been itching to do some bbq chicken on the smoker, so on the way home last night I picked up a pack of chicken quarters, this would work with a whole bird, but I like the dark meat and the smoke seems to too.
I mixed up a batch of my legendary poultry brine I discovered last fall when I smoked my turkey breast, however, this time I did not include the celery seed and cajun spice rather I added 3/4 tsp per quart onion powder and 1 tsp per quart Bad Byron’s Butt Rub and of course a little cayenne and sage. I let that sit by itself in the fridge over night.
How much brine should I make? If you are struggling with how much brine to make, put your meat in the container you will be brining it, add enough water to cover the meat completely and then remove the meat. Once the meat is removed measure the amount of water that is left in the container. Be sure to discard this water and start with fresh water when making any brine.
Back to the bbq chicken, this morning I trimmed the excess fat from and brined my chicken for about 3 hours, you will notice in the picture some of the chicken is not covered in water, I had to use a plate to hold the chicken below the water line, it was a tight fit.
One the chicken was done brining I pulled it from the brine and brushed it with olive oil and then rub it liberally with BBQ 3000 from Penzey’s, at this point I let the chicken sit and got the smoker ready to cook at a temperature of 225°F.
Once the smoker was up to temperature, I added a handful of apple chips and a hickory chunk to the chip can and then put the chicken on and let the apple and hickory do its magic. I was using my Brinkmann Gourmet with the Afterburner Propane burner today, so once the temperature stabilized all I had to do was check the meat temperature and the smoke. It was a pretty easy smoke. I arranged the chicken so the smoke could easily flow between all of the pieces. Be sure to lube your rack with oil or cooking spray for easy meat removal and clean up, but make sure you do it before it is over the fire.
In a rare stoke of brilliance today I took a picture of the meat right before I sauced it, the water pan is gross I know, but ignore it look at the shrink. Look how much the meat has shrunk throughout this cook, this is at about 175°F, right before I smothered it in some bbq sauce.
At an internal temperature of 180°F I pulled the chicken and let it rest for about 15 minutes. On the bounds of bragging you know you have done well cooking your chicken when as you pick up the quarters with a tongs the drumstick bone just falls out of the meat. I was excited!
At this point it was all I could to do keep from eating it, we ate it with some corn and a chunk of stone ground wheat bread (thanks Lohn this stuff is great). The chicken was awesome, better than even the cajun whole smoked chicken, which was really really good. What was really surprising is I have never used apple as a dominant wood in my smoking and it imparts well an apple like taste to the meat, which just blew my mind.