This is my staple recipe for anytime I need or want some smoked chicken, whether for a BBQ chicken dinner or for tons of recipes that call for smoked or grilled chicken. This method results in tender, juicy chicken with a nice smoky flavor and crisp skin, which is perfect in my book.
What you’ll need:
Whole chicken, split in half
Old WoodFire Grill© KK’s 10 BBQ Rub©
Hickory, pecan or apple chunks
Start out by building a medium fire in your Weber Kettle, around 300-350 degrees. For me this would mean 1 whole chimney of lump charcoal (briquettes work nicely as well), about half lit when dumped into the grill. Bank it on one side to create a “cool” side of the grate where you will place your chicken. Toss a chunk of wood on to get a nice smoke going. I prefer hickory or pecan for chicken, but apple or cherry would also be good choices. Place the lid on the grill so that it is not completely closed and is resting on one of the handles, on the side opposite the charcoal, creating an open side over the charcoal to allow more oxygen in and let the fire come up to temp and the wood chunks to burn in good while you prep the chicken. You can use this recipe for smoked chicken with any type cooker that you have, but the idea here is to cook at around 350 degrees as opposed to the traditional 250 smoking temp. You don’t have to slow cook chicken to break down the tissue and make it tender – it is already tender. The increased temp is a great compromise between slow smoking and hot grilling, giving the chicken enough time during the cooking process to take on a good smoke flavor, but hot enough and cooking fast enough to get the skin nice and crispy. To prep the chicken, rinse the chicken well and pat dry with paper towels. Using a large knife or kitchen shears, remove the back bone by cutting down both sides of it right up against the bone. Then flip the chicken over and cut down through the breast to halve the chicken. The trick with the seasoning is to get it on the chicken, not the skin. Actually, you can season the skin too if you like, but for the best tasting chicken, make sure that you get the rub or seasoning under the skin. To do this, gently pull back the skin, starting at the breast side and pulling towards the leg.
Now apply a liberal amount of Old WoodFire Grill’s KK’s 10 BBQ Rub© to the chicken, both under the skin and on the bottom side of the chicken half.
Replace the skin and cover with a light coat of olive oil, to help the skin take on a nice golden brown color. If you like, season the skin as well with the BBQ rub. I prefer mine without the rub, but to each his own! Once the grill has come up to temp, place the chicken halves on the grate on the “cool” side, opposite the coals. I generally start with the legs and thighs side of the halves facing the flames, then flop them around about half way through the cook. This will prevent the breasts from getting too dry while trying to get the dark meat side done.
Close the lid, situating it so that the vent is directly over the chicken halves, to draw the smoke over them. Let the chicken cook for a total of about 1 1/2 hours or until the temperature in the thigh is about 170 degrees.
This smoked chicken can be served in 1,000’s of different ways, everything from BBQ chicken Sunday dinner to pulled smoked chicken sandwiches, smoked chicken salad…the possibilities are virtually endless.