So I tried to smoke a whole chicken today

Trust me, this is beer related.

I decided I’d try my hand at smoking a whole chicken. I’d smoked chicken before, but just breasts and they got pretty dry. I had a lot of success with ribs and fish. A whole chicken was definitely a mental challenge.

This blog is focused on investigating, and usually that means experimenting. Although I have been spending a lot of time working on established types of beers, I like playing around with new ideas. Today, making beer-can smoked chicken with my brand new stout.

I took a sample today to check for residual sugars and to see how the taste and smell were coming along. Since I don’t need the whole sample and usually dump most of it, I thought to put it in a can and cook with it. Here was my process.

Aluminum can in a stand.
They make stands for this which you can see here. Around $7 at Ace.

First, get a can (with beer in it) and poke some holes in the top. Most places I’ve read suggest only having it half full.

A fire being started in a grill
I have a Smokey Joe, but for consistency electric is the way to go.

Get your smoker going. I used briquets in my charcoal smoker. Although not philosophically opposed to lighter fluid, I never use it for cooking. Paper and a bit of patience should be enough to get your coals going. For what it is worth, sometimes I really do wish I had an electric smoker.

Chicken on beer can stand.
With the stand, the chicken stays in one spot.

After a couple hour stint covered in salt in Fridge State Penitentiary, I broke my chicken out, gave it a quick shower, put a small amount of salt on it, and tucked the wings back so they wouldn’t burn.

Hickory wood on top of coals.
I use large hickory chunks, not wetted.
Cat watching chicken on grill.
No chicken is safe without being under the watchful eye of the cat. I paid her later with some breast meat.

With the smoker going, I put the chicken on and let it coast for about four hours. Unfortunately I never got the grill over 150F for those four hours. This was a mistake. The chicken took until 7:30 to temp above 165F. And this was after I raised the temp to 350F in desperation.

Chicken after cooking, sitting on tray.
Your arm’s off!

Turns out that this partially dried out the breast meat. It was a beautiful color, but the breast meat took the hit. The skin shriveled up and shrunk as well, which is what exposed the meat. The low temp also did not effectively steam the meat with the stout, so no real flavor was imparted that way.

With that said though, the smoke flavor was great, and the meat tasted great, as well.

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