The Top 3 Things You Should Know About Smoking Whole Chicken
Ashburn, VA: I went from making terrible whole smoked chicken to making delicious whole smoked chicken after a 20-minute conversation with a famous pitmaster.
One day I was at a local BBQ competition. This competition was special because a well-known pitmaster was attending as a guest. I had a chance to talk to him and we got on the subject of whole smoked chicken. He gave me 3 tips that took my smoked whole chicken skills to the next level.
Here Are The Tips:
- Let It Sit In The Fridge
- Understand The Science Behind Brining
- Spatchcock & The Rub
Let It Sit In The Fridge
When I used to make smoked chicken, the skin would come out chewy and rubbery. I tried a lot of different things to fix this but the results were mediocre at best. The pitmaster gave me an easy fix for this. When his grandfather would smoke a whole chicken, he would let the chicken sit uncovered in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours. His grandfather would wait until the skin got dry and leathery and then he would smoke the chicken and the skin would come out extra crispy. In addition to this technique, the pitmaster also cooks his chicken hot and fast as opposed to low and slow. As a result of letting the chicken dry out in the fridge and cooking it hot and fast, the pitmaster says his whole smoked chicken skin comes out crispy and golden every time.
I was skeptical of this tip. I didn’t know if it was wise to leave chicken uncovered in the fridge for several reasons. Plus, when I told my wife I was considering doing this she said “Not in my fridge!”. I did my research and turns out this tip is sanitary as long as the chicken cannot be contaminated and can’t contaminant other foods. I ended up trying this tip out by putting the bird in my beer fridge in the garage. After letting it sit for 24 hours I made my whole smoked chicken and the pitmaster was right! This is one of the best BBQ smoking tips I’ve received and I don’t know why nobody talks about it.
Understand The Science Behind Brining
There are a million and one brining recipes out there plus some people swear by dry brines while others swear by wet brines. Here is what I learned from the pitmaster. You can get creative with your brine and add different spices, oranges, lemons, etc. However here are the 3 most important things to consider when brining:
When you smoke whole chicken that has not been brined, the muscles contract and squeeze the water out. This is how chicken gets dry. Brining your chicken in water and salt is important because salt helps push water into the cells of the meat. When you wet brine, the salt will relax the muscles and make gaps where the water can get in. It is salt that plays the most important role here. You need to make sure you use enough salt (which I wasn’t). Regardless of the recipe you choose for your brine make sure you use ¾ to 1 cup of salt per gallon, make sure you heat up the brine so the salt dissolves efficiently, and make sure your brine is cooled down before you put your chicken in. Here is a tip. Of the gallon of water you use to brine, heat a ¼ of it up and dissolve the salt in it. Once the salt is dissolved, add the remaining ¾ gallon using cold water. This will allow your brine to cool faster because you never want to put your chicken in warm brine. I’ve been following these principles and my chicken has been super moist.
Note: Brine for 24-48 hours & be sure to brine before you let the bird dry in the fridge.
Spatchcock & The Rub
I’ve been told to spatchcock whole smoked chicken before but I was never given the “why” behind it. The pitmaster told me when he does whole smoked chicken for TV, etc. he does not spatchcock for presentation purposes. However, when he does whole smoked chicken at home he always spatchcocks. Here are the 3 reasons why he always spatchcocks whole chicken:
- The chicken cooks evenly because it is flat. Now your breast and thigh meat can be done at the same time.
- The chicken cooks about 25% faster.
- Since the chicken is flat, you get more exposure to heat which helps the skin get crispy.
The pitmaster also said flat chicken allows him to get a little more flavor on there when he adds the rub. He said he has recently been using a rub for his chicken that he is in LOVE with. It’s called Bald Buck. I went home and looked up Bald Buck on youtube. I found a few videos on it ( I placed a couple of them below). One video was by T-Roy. I’ve been following him for years so I decided to try the rub and hot damn it’s awesome! It’s been my go-to rub anytime I make chicken.
If you want to know more about Bald Buck you can check out the video reviews on their site. If you are looking to experiment I highly recommend testing the rub. I hope these tips help you the way they helped me!
The stories, characters, and incidents featured in this advertising content are entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The content is intended for marketing purposes only and does not represent factual information. The views and opinions expressed in this advertorial do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information contained within is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep the information up-to-date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the content provided for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.