This is one of my favorite recipes. During the summer months I smoke the chicken using lemons and then switch to apples in the fall. As for the beer, I pick a sesonal one that is complimentary to the fruit being used. In winter time, I also experiment more with the spices by using flavors like cloves, nutmeg, so it compliments seasonal sides too.
So what is a brine exactly? Think of it as a flavor enhancer. Lean meats like pork, chicken, turkey and seafood are susceptible to too much moisture loss when cooked. To combat that, chefs use a brine solution that starts with water and salt and then soak the meat from a few hours up to 24 hours, depending on the meat and size. The salt penetrates into the muscle of the meat and allows the liquid to get soaked up by the tissue. The result is up to 50% less water reduction when cooked, compared to cooking without a brine.
Prepare the chicken by removing all of the giblets and then washing it. I’ve noticed that even if you get a package inside the bird with the giblets, there are still traces of it in the carcass that you’ll want to remove. The neck will also be inside the body to remove, but I always trim down the vertebrae even more to make room for the sittin’ chicken to fit.
Once washed, using a container that will fit the chicken and brine, add all the brine ingredients and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Insert the chicken, put a lid on it and throw it in the fridge for 3-4 hours before cooking.
Once the chicken has been marinating for 4 hours, remove it from the brine, wash it and then pat it dry. Trust me, you don’t want all that salt left on the meat. In a small bowl, add a couple handful of pecan wood chips and then fill with the bowl with water.
Prepare the aromatics below. Place the chicken on top of the sittin’ chicken ceramic cooker so that the breasts are facing down, and then fill the basin with half of the beer. Stuff the aromatics into the bird, filling it to the top. At this point, I use a drip pan because things can get a bit messy just putting everything together.
Using the cooking twine, tie the legs and wings so that they close up the top of the chicken. Don’t worry if there is still an opening, and I’m not going to try to explain how to wrap it exactly, since it doesn’t have to be exact! Using a basting brush, mop the skin of the chicken with olive oil. Then dust the outside with salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, thyme and rosemary. If you don’t have all the spices, not to worry. Just use what you have.
Warm up the smoker to 250° and add the wood chips. When the white smoke starts to die down, place the chicken with the drip pan on the grill. If using a Big Green Egg, don’t forget the plate setter (ConvEGGtor) for indirect cooking. Cook for up to 4 hours until the leg and breast reach an internal temperature of 165°. If the skin isn’t done to your liking, at this point, raise the temp to 400° and remove the plate setter. Cook both sides until the skin is crisp and brown (this should only take a few minutes on both sides. Remove from the grill and let it rest for 20 minutes before tearing into it. Enjoy!
.5 Cup of Salt
.5 Cup of Brown Sugar (optional, instead of sugar just bump the salt to 1 cup)
1 Tablespoon of Better than Bouillon Chicken
1 Teaspoon of Thyme
1 Tablespoon of Black Peppercorns
8 Cups of Water (equal to 2 quarts)
1-2 small lemons, quartered (can substitute apple or mix)
1 Celery stalk, chopped in 1 inch sections
3 to 4 large garlic cloves, cut in 2-3 pieces
1 of your favorite beers
Salt and Pepper
Oregano, thyme and Rosemary
Paprika (for color)
Cooking twine for wrapping the chicken
2 Handfuls of Pecan Wood Chips