One Whole Friggin' Chicken
I got two whole chickens (around 3-4 lbs each), cut them in half (making four chicken halves!), and brined them overnight in a mixture of water, salt, brown sugar, and a pinch of cumin. I found out about brining poultry from BAM! watching Emeril, and I do it every time I cook a turkey for Thanksgiving because it makes the bird moist and juicy.
After brining the chicken overnight, I assembled my ingredients:
My ingredients assembled, ready to do battleI'm sure that you are familiar with salt, pepper, vegetable oil, cider vinegar, wood chips, and beer. You are probably also familiar with chipotle peppers, since they're currently in every dish in every casual dining restaurant across the nation, but you may not be familiar with achiote paste:
You may notice this picture says "annatto paste" because we're looking at the English sideMayan in origin, achiote paste is a spice blend from the Yucatan in Mexico. One of the key ingredients is annatto seeds. I love it because it imparts a very earthy flavor onto meats, as well as turning everything red. If you feel that the food you eat isn't red enough, try to find achiote paste.
For this particular recipe, I made a chipotle-achiote marinade for my chicken. I used the entire 100g container of achiote, 4 chipotle peppers and all of the adobo sauce that the chipotle peppers came with, around 1/4 cup of oil, and about 3/4 cup of water. I blended this sauce up:
Make sure to blend it well so you don't have too big of chunksDrained the brined chicken pieces and patted them dry with paper towels, and marinated with the sauce:
I said it was red!
While that marinates, soak your wood chips and fire up the smoker:
I got this bad boy for $4 at an estate sale.
While marinating, I also made a mopping sauce to use while the chicken smokes. The mopping sauce is 1 cup of cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of beer (the rest is for you!), 1/2 cup of the reserved achiote marinade, and salt & pepper, all whisked together. Also, instead of using a mop or a brush, I took the lazy way out and used a squirt bottle:
Almost ready to cook!
And so finally, at long last, we are ready to put meat on the grill! My chicken was a little crowded, but it still worked out well:
Time to make it smoky and delicious!
Make sure to put your wood chips on the fire, and don't forget to use your mopping sauce!
Mop, mop, mop, all day long! Mop, mop, mop, while I sing this song!
When smoking, make sure not to lift the lid too often, because you lose a lot of heat, and it sets the cooking time back a lot. The object of smoking is low and slow, so make sure not to have a rip-roaring fire, either! (Perhaps I'll do a smoking tutorial sometime in the future)
The length of time it takes for the chicken finish cooking will depend on how hot your fire is, as well as how many times you open it up. For chicken and other poultry, you'll need to cook it all the way through; the easiest way to make sure it's done is with a meat thermometer. Hopefully your bird(s) will look something like this:
I told you it was friggin' red!
To serve, you could cut it up into individual pieces or serve the whole halves (depending on how hungry you are), but I found it pretty convenient to cut it in half, leaving a portion of the breast meat on the bottom (thigh and drum) half: