PART 2 - GENERAL QUESTIONS
NOTE: Sections 2 and 3 are comprised of Questions posed to a
few of America's Top Pitmasters about brining, along with their
respective answers. Part 2 rambles on to cover more than just
"Brining," and hopefully proves quite useful on
cooking excellent BBQ chicken as well.
==> 1) Do people smoke other than WHOLE chickens ? I would
really like to smoke breasts, but the one time I tried breasts,
they really did not turn out all that good.
Dan Martin (DM): I have smoked boneless, skinless breast's
with good result's. I rub them with my regular rub I use on
butt's, smoke at 300o for about an hour or an hour and a half. I
use a polder probe in the thickest part horizontally. I go to
about 150o internal, I know that sounds low but by the time I
let them sit for a bit they are up to 175o. I than put a light
coat of sauce on them and sometime roll them on the grill just
to crisp up a bit.
Bob In GA: Yes, I believe so. In fact people have actually
been heard saying they "smoked" barbecue also, so I
guess anything is game :)
Kit Anderson (Kit): Yes. I prefer cutting them in half and
keeping the backs for stock.
==> 2) Is the Beer can approach the BEST way to do chicken
DM - I have done it also. I still like to roll on the grill
to crisp up.
Billy In Texas (Belly): Not for me.
Kit: "Chicken On A Throne" is a
"presentation" recipe. Meaning folks laugh when they
see the chicken propped up with a beer can. You put spices in a
beer can, stuff it in the chicken and smoke it. The problems
1. Waste of spices. There is no resulting flavor from putting
spices in the beer.
2. The chicken falls over a lot.
3. It doesn't get hot enough to evaporate the beer so it adds
nothing to the moistness.
4. You have to buy beer in cans. The only good beer in cans is
Guinness and the IRA will put a nail bomb in your smoker for
wasting it. So you are stuck buying swill beer which only
encourages them to make more.
5. The can keeps smoke from getting inside the chicken.
The result is good but not due to the beer. Use the rub and
forget the can.
==> 3) How do you do (ie, smoke) chicken wings ?
DM: 2 hours at 250o, with a lot of hickory. I than dip in a
"buffalo wing" sauce and finish on the grill.
Belly: Soak them in Oil,Beer and Dr pepper, La. hot sauce for
an hour or three. Then smoke for about one and 1/2 hours, or
Kit: Like the rest of the chicken.
==> 4) How do you get the skin done, so that it is not
like 'rubber' like and yet not dry out the chicken at the same
DM - Cook at a hotter temp., and finish on grill.
Bob In Ga: I think this is where your term
"smoking" and "grilling" come into play.
With pieces, I can get the skin very crisp and edible, almost as
good as hog skin by grilling it very fast on my 8" grill.
It more resembles fried chicken than slow cooked chicken. My
only guess to have the best of both worlds would be to slow cook
first and then finish the skin as you would a pork bbq cut. But
this may prove to require a lot of judgement in knowing when to
switch methods. You could easily overcook your chicken trying to
blister the skin. I think it's basically like cooking pork bbq
but there may not be as much room for error in judgement because
of the lack of fat in chicken.
Belly: Cover with tin foil after smoke gets to your liking.
Kit: Move it to the hot spot or increase the temp to 350
degrees for the last 30 minutes.
==> 5) Any suggestions for both TIME and TEMPERATURES for:
a) Breasts ?
b) Whole Chickens
c) Wings ?
Bob In GA: Time will obviously depend on the size of the meat
in relation to temperature. As for temperature, throw away your
thermometer when cooking the skin.
Belly: Breasts - 250/300 45 min to an hour
Whole Chickens 250, Three hours
Wings 45 min
Kit: A 4 lb bird will take about 4 hours at 250. Start breast
down for one hour. Pull it off when the breast temp is 170.
==> 6) What about seasonings ?
Bob In GA: Avoid any finishing sauce that contains
ketchup/tomato products. You may as well have oven-cooked it if
you go that route. Salt and pepper works good as do most ethnic
Belly: Any thing you like, Sweet Suzy Rub.
Kit: Peanut oil, pepper, sage, thyme, lemon pepper...
... the sky is the limit.
==> 7) What does brining do to the chicken meat ?
DM - Helps retain moisture, add's flavor if you spice the
Belly: Makes it better, lots more moist.
Kit: It draws water into the meat and starts crosslinking
(coagulation, cooking) of the cellular proteins. This raises the
temp at which the cells breakdown losing their moisture. Hence,
jucier meat. The flavor is also enhanced.
==> 8) Is brining a neccesity ? I have heard TWO
conflicting opinions to brining: One that it is the ONLY way to
go, and Two, that it was just TOO salty for people's tastes.
IMPORTANT NOTE; Please read both the below part, as well as
DM - Rinse REALLY WELL.
Belly: You MUST wash chicken a good two times after brining
and dry good; then put your seasonings on.
Kit: If it is too salty, you brined too heavily or too long.
==> 9) If we were to brine, would you brine chicken
breasts and wings also ?
DM - Absolutely.
Belly: YES, YES
==> 10) And lastly, while we are on brining, I have read
several places that people bring more than just poultry. Any
DM - Have only tried chicken.
Belly: Just Chicken for me.
Kit: When making pastrami or corned beef. The flavor from
brining is not desirable in pork or beef BBQ. They will taste
==> 11) Seasonings you might suggest for poultry smoking ?
Belly: Sweet Suzy Chicken Rub ( makes out of sight Chickens)
While you're at it, use Belly's BBQ Rub or Paluxy Valley BBQ
Rub, For pork Ribs try Jack's Rib Rub
Kit: See above. Just don't salt the meat if you brined.