Our brining and smoking BBQ chicken recipe earned the Posse its first category win at the Blues, Bandits festival in Oak Cliff, Tx.
The key to any good chicken — from fried to smoked– is brining. We all have endured a tough, stringy, dry piece of chicken and making it juicy is an easy fix.
Just take a little extra time to brine.
1 small whole chicken
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 cup unsweetened grapefruit juice
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
About 2 cups water
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. dried orange peel
½ cup paprika (mild)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup black pepper (cracked or coarse ground)
In a bowl or tub large enough to hold a whole chicken, mix the brine ingredients with about two cups of water and stir until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Add the black pepper and cayenne. Dip a finger and give a little taste as you are looking for a balance between the sweet, salty and sour. If one is a little too prominent then add a contrast to bring the flavor into balance. When satisfied put the chicken in the bowl and fill with water to immerse it. Refrigerate.
In an emergency scenario even thirty minutes of brining will help, but something in the range of two hours is ideal. I have brined chicken for up to eight hours but hesitate to go over that amount of time as the chicken can absorb too much water and become mushy.
In another bowl mix the rub ingredients, the cayenne pepper, orange peel, brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry (the body cavity too) with paper towels. Fold back wings and tie the legs. Smear the chicken with the mustard as a binding agent for the rub. Add rub all around, starting with the bottom of the chicken and finishing with the breast side, getting all the folds.
When smoking chicken I generally use a probe thermometer to monitor the temperature of the meat. Insert probe into the inner meat of the thigh. It should not be close to the surface or touching a bone. This a short smoke (around two hours). You can use just about any good smoking wood (alder, fruit wood, mesquite, oak, pecan). Get your fire to around 200º and place the chicken with the dark meat facing the fire. Try to hold the fire at 200º but don’t worry if your fire jumps up a little when you add wood. Just dampen the air flow a bit and wait for it to fall back into line then readjust your air.
A general rule for cook time on a couple of medium chickens is two hours. I wait for the temperature gauge to hit 172º and pull it.
When you remove the BBQ chicken from the smoker lightly wrap it in foil and let it rest for about 30 minutes. This allows the internal juices to settle back into the entire chicken. Any chicken, no matter how it is prepared will dry out given time. So carve the bird right before serving.
Let use know what you think about our brining and smoking BBQ chicken recipe!