Pulled pork is incredible, and all the rage everywhere …. I understand that, and love it. However, a few of my faithful friends and family that love me cooking for them, and I love cooking for them …. aren’t into pork. So, my response is always to do a smoked chicken at the same time. Usually all the pork eaters gobble down the pulled pork as their main meal, and then they just can’t keep their fingers from snacking and grabbing at bits of the smoked chicken. Not only is it incredibly moist and delicous, that remaining carcass makes delicious soup stock! I think the secret is in the brine. Always an extra step, but if you are cooking for the love of it, you won’t mind this step at all.
This recipe works well for a 4-6 lb chicken. I always recommend cutting the chicken in half, it allows for better brining and smoking. Get your butcher to do it if you like!
2 cups chicken broth (homemade if possible)
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup local honey
2 tbsp raw sugar
2 tsp black peppercorns
4 long sprigs fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic, smashed lightly to open up the aroma
2 dried chipotle chiles
2-3 bay leaves
Start by bringing 4 cups water to a boil in a pot, stir in the salt first, and dissolve that. Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. If that doesn’t cool it down enough, add enough ice cubes to completely cool the liquid. You do not want to put a cold chicken in warm liquid. Make sure your chicken is completely covered with liquid (adding more cold water if necessary) and put in the fridge for 12 hours.
Remove from brine, rinse well and pat dry.
- 1½ tbsp of garlic powder
- 1½ tbsp oregano
- 2 tsp thyme
- 1 tbsp basil
- 1 tbsp chile powder
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
Feel free to play around with these spices and herbs, come up with your own blend!
Give the chicken a generous massage with this rub – treat it well ….. I usually like to wear disposable gloves for this – I find it helps the rub to adhere to the meat better than my hands …
At this point, put the chicken on your smoker rack, in the fridge (I put it on a cookie sheet so any remaining drips don’t end up in my fridge) Allowing the chicken to completely dry out in the fridge, while soaking up these spices makes for a crispier skin. Honestly, if you are doing this in an electric smoker you may find that the skin still doesn’t get crispy but you can always finish it up on the bbq or the broiler if you desire.
Place in electric smoker, which has been preheated to 250, and smoke for 3 hours. *Usually I’ve had my pork in there for 4 hours already …* Check the temperature – you ultimately want to end at 165 degrees, and do not go beyond that. Usually this takes about 4 hours at 250. When you reach that temperature, remove from smoker and tightly wrap in foil, allowing to rest for an hour. At that point it will usually shread easily from the bones. Make sure to reserve those bones for soup stock!
Serve with the usual pulled meat accompaniements …. creamy coleslaw, extra barbecue sauce and really fresh buns.