Last December, as we were getting the keys to our new house from our landlord, we walked in and there was a giant box sitting in the middle of the empty living room. It turns out that Angela bought me a smoker for Christmas. It just turned out that it arrived before we did.
I’ve used it a number of times since then and have mostly stuck to the “classics.” I’ve done pulled pork several times but I have trouble cooking it long enough to get it truly tender (I haven’t made myself get up earlier enough). The same issue came with brisket. But what truly shows the beauty of smoked meat is poultry. It’s not classic barbecue but chicken and turkey absorb the smoke beautifully. Not to mention the gorgeous exterior. I’m already planning to smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving this year.
I decided to change things up slightly on this chicken. I usually smoke foods with hickory but I decided to give mesquite a try. I’ll gladly admit to be a novice smoker but there is a definitive difference between the hickory and the mesquite. The mesquite is a bit sharper and tangier in taste. While I don’t think it would work as well as hickory on pork, it adds a really nice bite to the chicken.
A smoker is really a bit of an extravagance but the more I use it, the more I know I wouldn’t want to live without it.
Whiskey-Glazed Smoked Chicken
Adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing
1 gallon/4 liters water
1 1/2 cups /350 g kosher salt
1/2 cup / 125 g sugar
8 tsp / 42 g pink salt
1 3-to-4 lbs. chicken, trussed
1 cup/250 milliliters whiskey
1/2 cup/125 milliliters maple syrup
1/4 packed cup/50 g dark brown sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper
- Combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator until cold. Place the chicken in the brine, weight it down, and brine it for 18 hours. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse it under running water, dry it with paper towels, and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
- An hour before smoking the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator.
- Hot smoke the chicken at 200ºF until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF, 3 to 4 hours.
- While the chicken is smoking, place all the glaze ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer until the glaze is reduced to 1 cup.
- An hour and a half into smoking the chicken, brush the chicken with some of the glaze.
- When the chicken is finished cooking, remove it from the smoker. Brush it with the remaining glaze and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Serve immediately.