Finally, Tender and Juicy Chicken Made On The
Everyone has tried barbecue chicken at one point or the other.
Believe it or not, chicken is actually one of the toughest meats to barbecue correctly.
Think about it, how many times have you been served a piece of BBQ chicken that’s burned and blackened on the outside but raw inside?
Remember that time when you had to drink a gallon of ice tea just to choke down a piece of dry over cooked chicken breast.
Well no need to fret my friend. I have discovered several quick and easy ways to barbecue the perfect piece of chicken.
The official KCBS ( Kansas City Barbecue Society) Judges Certification Program states properly smoked chicken will be moist and have a nice texture, and any juice present should be clear. Smoked chicken has a tendency to produce a red coloring around the bone areas especially in the thigh and leg meat. To some this give an impression the chicken is undercooked but you must check that the juices run clear.
In most cases I choose to barbecue the thighs and legs of the chicken. The dark meat tends to remain tender and juicy when smoking chicken for longer periods of time.
Chicken breasts can be barbecued but are better grilled over a hot fire rather than smoked low and slow.
One of my favorite methods to barbecuing chicken is using a brine mixture.
A brine is when soak your food in a solution consisting of water and kosher salt. A sweetener such as sugar, molasses or honey can also be added for taste and to help brown the skin.
By immersing meats into a liquid with a higher concentrate of salt, the liquid is absorbed into the meat. Any flavoring added to the brine will be carried into the meat with the saltwater solution. At this point, because the meat is filled with extra moisture it will stay that way while its on your pit.
Your basic brine solution ( see the brine recipe at the end) consists of 1 gallon of water to 3/4 to 1 cup of kosher salt. I find that 3/4 cups of Kosher salt suits my taste the best. If you like your food a little on the salty side go with 1 cup.
Brining in a saltwater solution before smoking chicken will in most cases add flavor, tenderness and reduce cooking times.
You’ll make your brine using warm water to combine all the ingredients and so they dissolve properly.
Here’s the thing you MUST remember! You gotta chill your brine solution before adding your chicken to the mixture. Bacteria loves to grow in the temperature ranges between 40 degrees and 140 degrees. For this reason its very important to chill your brine solution to below 40 degrees prior to adding your chicken.
You still following me…? Good–lets keep going.
So you’ve combined your brine solution and you’ve chilled the liquid so its below the magical 40 degree number. Now it’s time to add your chicken to the mixture.
There are a couple of ways you can do this– depending on how much chicken you’re serving. I prefer to fill a good quality freezer or storage bag with my chicken pieces and pour the solution into the bag.
I’ve also filled a 10 gallon bucket with my brine solution and chucked the chicken pieces in. You’ll want to make sure you’re using enough liquid to completely submerge the chicken in the liquid–you don’t want any pieces sticking out. You may actually need to weigh down some of the pieces so they stay submerged.
Basically you can use any type of container just so its non-reactive to salt.
So how long should you brine your chicken?
Good question–I’m glad you asked…it all depends…
You’ll want to brine chicken parts such as legs, thighs and wings for about 2 hrs. If you’re doing a whole chicken you’ll want to brine it for about 8-12 hours and a chicken breast for just about an hour.
Once your chicken has marinated in the brine for the proper amount of time you’ll want to remove the chicken from the bag, bucket or whatever storage device you’ve come up with.
You’ll rinse each piece of chicken under cold tap water so to rinse the salty solution off and then you’ll pat it dry with a clean towel.
Now here’s a little tip to get that great crispy skin you lay awake a night thinking about so read on skippy…
Once you’ve removed the chicken and pat it dry, you’ll want to let it rest in the fridge for an hour or two.
You see, what’s going to happen here is the moisture from skin will absorb back into the meat– making a juicier chicken and crispier skin.–Hmmm sounds like heaven.
Now if you’re brining a whole bird you’ll want to wrap it in foil or plastic and keep it in the fridge overnight for at least 12 hours.
Once the chicken has rested, you’re ready to hit it with some rub. Make sure your rub doesn’t contain a ton of salt or your final product could turn out really salty.
I typically barbecue chicken in my pit at a cooking temp between 250- 300 degrees. I’ve even gone as high as 350. Just make sure you watch it real close.
Now you’ll want to watch how much and what types of smoke you use when barbecuing chicken.
Chicken accepts smoke very easily so it can become over smoked. Make sure you use a light smoke from a fruit wood or a very small piece of hickory. I would never use mesquite, its just to strong of a smoke for chicken. In fact, the only time I use mesquite is when I grill steaks.
On average your thighs will cook in 1 1/2 hours at 260 degrees or shorter depending if you are cooking hotter. Your legs will take about 1 1/2-2 hrs at 250-300 degrees.
I’ve actually found that smoking my chicken at 300-325 does best for me but its important for you to conduct your own experiments and find what works best for you.
Your chicken is done when your meat thermometer reaches 170-175 degrees.
Once you’re chicken is done, I like to then crisp it up over a direct fire on my Weber kettle grill. This is when you’ll apply your glaze.
Basically when you glaze a piece of barbecue meat your painting it with a mixture of barbecue sauce and honey. I like to glaze with a mixture of 16 oz of BBQ sauce and 4 oz of honey. The honey makes your finished product shimmer and glissen in the mid-day sun.
Just make sure to wait until the end of your cook to glaze otherwise it will burn and your chicken will turn out black and that is a definite no-no.
So there you have it. Just a simple and easy way you can cook tender and juicy chicken every time!
I really hope you enjoyed this and if you did, please let me know your thoughts by posting them in the comments box, on my blog or shoot me an email.
I really do enjoy reading them.
Now Go Smoke something, Bill Parlaman
Oh, I almost forgot…here is your FREE brine recipe-
1 gallon water
3/4 cup Kosher salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coarse black peper
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup soy sauce