Short on time? Then one of these smoked chicken recipes would be a good way to go. Chicken can be smoked in less time than many other meats, and is often inexpensive. It also pairs well with a variety of seasonings and flavors. These are all good reasons to make smoked chicken on a regular basis.
There so many options when buying chicken it can be difficult to choose. Boneless, skinless, free-range, organic, industrially raised, breasts, thighs, drumsticks, leg quarters, or whole chickens - each requires a little different technique, but all taste great.
Packaged chicken parts are usually ready to season and smoke right from the package. Sure, you might need to trim off a little fat or skin, but that's a small price to pay for getting the exact portion you want for your chicken recipe
Whole chickens require a little more attention. Some will have giblets and the neck stuffed inside the body cavity, and there's usually quite a bit of excess skin and fat to remove. Whole smoked chickens have an impressive look!
And with the whole birds you have the option to butterfly them, cooking them spatchcock-style. Using this method shortens cooking time and allows for more even distribution of seasoning.
If you want to save a few bucks, whole fryers and baking hens are often the least expensive way to buy chicken. They can be seasoned and smoked whole or separated into the individual parts with a sharp knife and a bit of skill.
Look at those spineless chickens! That's what a spatchcock is - take a pair of kitchen shears, cut away the back bone, then flatten it out. When prepared this way, they cook a little quicker and more evenly, too.
Preferred by many, the white breast meat is lower in both fat and calories than the dark meat.
For more flavor and moistness it helps to baste the chicken a couple times as it's cooking, especially when smoking boneless, skinless breasts. Oil or fat added to the basting liquid prevents drying and will give the chicken a nice sheen when it's finished.
Whole skin-on, bone-in breasts will have richer flavor. The rib bones and skin also help prevent the meat from drying.
Chicken thighs and legs are more forgiving and can be cooked to a higher temperature without becoming dry. All chicken parts are safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, but I prefer the flavor and texture of dark meat when it's cooked to 175 degrees or more.
It's important to brine chicken before it's cooked in the grill or smoker. While brining adds flavor, it also causes changes to the meat fibers that help in holding moisture in place. And using a flavorful dry rub seasoning on the chicken is always a good idea.