Smoked chicken is not a meat that immediately springs to mind when you think of smoking your own food, but its popularity is definitely growing considering the enquiries we get.
Here is a recipe for hot smoked chicken I tried recently that worked beautifully in our Electric Smoker.
I bought the freshest, highest quality chicken I could possibly find. Organic chicken thighs from Tablehurst, my local organic farm, provided my raw ingredient of choice.
Thoroughly washed but with the skin left on, is how I added it to the cooled brine. I made the brine by adding a large mug full of salt and half a mug of brown sugar, to a medium bowl of warm water. I also added a few large halved cloves of garlic, some chilly flakes and dry tarragon.
The chicken remained in the brine overnight. After removing from the brine I washed the meat and allowed it to air dry for the morning.
I chose to use our Electric Smoker as I had not smoked much chicken and the glass door is a great feature for keeping a close eye on what's cooking! For this recipe I removed the electric element and instead used the firebox filled 3/4 full with a mixture of our plain beech sawdust and wood chips for heat and smoke. I favour back-to-basics food smoking without electricity whenever possible (somehow the experience is more satisfying and definitely more sustainable) although having electric powered backup if you need it does come in handy sometimes.
After lighting the wood chips and sawdust with a blowtorch and placing it in the smoker for 10 minutes to build some temperature, I hung the chicken as high as possible in the smoker from meat hooks. The temperature in the smoker rose slowly over a period of about 30 mins to hover between 80 and 100 degrees for about 3 hours before cooling slowly. Total smoking time was about 5 hours. For additional flavour, I placed the garlic and herbs from the brine on the drip tray to add additional aromas to the smoking process.
The flavour and moisture present in that chicken was nothing short of astonishing - Perhaps one could predict the incredible intensity of flavour, but the succulents was a very welcome and unexpected surprise. I urge you to try smoked chicken as soon as possible!
NB: under-cooking poultry can be dangerous - if you are not sure your smoked chicken is properly cooked, you can microwave it for a few minutes after the smoking process, to be absolutely sure.