Smoked Chicken in electric smoker

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!

Chicken brine

Brine:

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.

Mix together:

  • 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 …

Chicken ready for trhe smoker

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.

Pulled Chicken

 

 

 

Jean’s Cole Slaw

This simple coleslaw is great as a side for a variety of summer meals, but as a topping on either pulled pork or pulled chicken it really shines.

Pulled Pork

 

2/3  cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt & pepper to taste

 

Blend well, and keep tasting – should have a nice balance of sweet and tangy.

Pulled Pork in the Smoker

During the winter months I resort to using either my oven or my slow cooker for pulled pork …. mainly because we don’t have an outdoor space where we can use our electric smoker and still have it be under cover.  Whenever the opportunity is available though, this is the way to go.  When I am operating the smoker I like to make good use of that smoke and utilize the space, so I often do a pork roast as well as a chicken.  After trial and error, this pulled pork is the best!  Pile soft buns with the meat, some creamy cole slaw and a few pickled onions – serve with potato salad and green salad and this meal is a winner.

Pulled Pork

 

BRINE:

8 ounces (3/4 cup) molasses

12 ounces pickling salt

2 dried chipotle chiles

2 quarts bottled water

6-8 pound pork shoulder (or Boston Butt as it is known in some areas)

It is best to weigh the salt.  Pickling salt, by ounce, is not as “salty” as a table salt by either weight or measuring cup.

RUB:

1 tsp whole cumin seed

1 tsp whole fennel seed

1 tsp whole coriander

1 tbsp Mexican chile powder

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp paprika

Using a spice grinder (or mortar & pestle) finely grind the cumin, fennel and coriander seeds.  Add the rest of the spice powders and blend well.

Heat ½ of the water, add molasses and salt.  Simmer just until the salt has dissolved and stir in the rest of the water along with the chipotle chiles.  When mixture has cooled, put in a container suitable to go into your fridge,  add in the pork and make sure it is submerged in the liquid, adding more water if necessary in order to cover.

Brine at least 12 hours.  Remove from liquid, rinse well and pat dry.

Using kitchen gloves (rub adheres best if you do) vigorously rub the pork with the spices.

Smoker ready pork and chicken

Heat your smoker to 250, and place pork on a rack.  Start testing the pork for temperature after 7 hours.  Once it has reached 190 (yes, I know that seems high) it is done.  Here is the key part – tightly bundle the whole thing in a tin foil pack, not allowing any steam to escape and let it sit for at least an hour.  This will allow the moisture within the pork to redistribute and make for the most tender, flavourful pork ever!

A simple coleslaw recipe works best for piling on top of the pork – try Jean’s coleslaw on this site, and add a few pickled onions (also on this site).

 

 

Tangy Coleslaw

Everybody needs an alternative to creamy coleslaw, and I think this is the answer.  We love to use this as a side salad, but equally as delicious when used as a burger topping.

DRESSING

1/4 cup cider vinegar   

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp raw sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

SALAD

This amount of dressing will easily dress a package of purchased prepared coleslaw mix for those nights when you are just too busy to shred your own or you can prepare:

4 cups finely shredded green cabbaage

1 cup finely shredded red cabbage

1/2 cup finely shredded sweet onion

1/2 cup sliced radishes

1/2 cup grated carrot

2 tbsp minced parsley

Toss to mix the ingredients, and then dress with the salad.  Don’t dress the salad too early – tastes best if all the ingredients are still fresh and crunchy.

Mile High Beef Burgers

One of the most important things to remember about making a burger is to handle the meat as little as possible!  Gentle treatment makes for a tender, juicy hamburger.  Use the best quality beef you can find, always.

2 # lean ground beef (extra lean just doesn’t have enough flavour)

3 tbsp minced basil

1/2 cup grated sweet onion

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

jalapeno jack cheese

Gently mix ingredients and form into burgers. (should make about 8 burgers)  Allow to rest in fridge or freezer for at least 30 minutes to allow the burger to set.

Grill until cooked through – if you happen to grind your own meat, and know the source, it is great to have it medium rare.  Top with jalapeno jack cheese for the last few minutes, allowing to just melt slightly.

This mile high burger had fresh herb aioli on the bottom of a thin red pepper bun, the burger, jalapeno jack cheese, grilled sweet red and yellow pepper, grilled avocado,  sauted onions & mushrooms, then topped off with fresh tangy coleslaw.

Delicious and mouth watering good!  Get the napkins out …