Thursday, January 2, 2014

How to Smoke a Chicken (or Turkey) on Your Grill

I've done this twice now, and both times it's come out well.  So now I'm sharing the recipe, and we'll see what you guys think.

You will need:
  • A chicken or turkey, between 8 & 12 lbs.
  • A kettle grill
  • Lots of charcoal, preferably lump wood
  • Cherry or hickory wood chips
  • A disposable roasting pan
  • One large carrot
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • Half an onion
  • Several cloves of garlic
  • 1.5 to 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of pepper

Rinse your chicken (or turkey) and set it in the disposable roasting pan.  Make sure to remove the giblets and other assorted bits from the bird's cavity.  

Mix the salt and pepper into a little bowl and then rub liberally around the outside of the bird and inside the cavity.  This is a form of dry brining, and you'll want to let the bird stand for an hour afterwards, perferably inside your refrigerator.

Once the bird has stood for an hour in the dry brine, chop the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic, and place them into the pan around the bird.  Add the chicken broth, so that the vegetables and the bottom third or so of the bird is covered by the broth.

An eight-pound chicken, in a roasting pan with chopped aromatics.

Place the bird, still in the roasting pan with all of the aromatics, onto the grill on the low-medium side.  Add a handful of cherry or hickory wood chips to the charcoal, and close the lid to the grill.  You will need to adjust the air intakes on the grill to maintain the temperature inside the grill between 350 and 400 degrees.

Maintain a close watch on the temperature inside the grilll.  If you are using real wood charcoal, it should stay hot for between 45 and 55 minutes, after which you will need to add more charcoal to maintain the fire's fuel.  When you open the grill to add more charcoal, flip the bird over so that the breast is down in the aromatics.  You will want to flip the bird every time you add charcoal, basically once every hour.  You should also add more cherry or hickory wood chips when you add more charcoal.

An eight-pound chicken, after 2.5 hours on the grill.
You will need to cook the bird approximately 20 minutes per pound, until the bird is at least 165-degrees F inside the breast.  Because of the uncertain nature of grill heating, you will definitely need to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the bird at the breast.

Your grilled bird should come out juicy and just a little bit spicy.  Let it rest for five minutes after you take it off the grill, and then carve it.  Enjoy!

Questions?  Feel free to drop them in the comments below.

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