Sweet Georgia Brown's Smoked Yard Bird
"It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken." Frank Perdue
Smoked chicken is like liver. You either love it or hate it. In the South, you can start a fight by voicing a preference for smoked chicken or fried chicken. For me, it's all about the skin. Fried chicken is worthless unless it crunches. Smoked chicken, Georgia style, is big, bold, and assertive, but the skin, although it is packed with flavor, is not crispy. The only way to tell which side of the chicken wire fence you're on is to try it. Fortunately, it's easy to make. This method will produce a delicate, moist bird if you don't overcook it, so there is no need to even consider brining it.
If you wish, when you are done, you can pull the meat off the bones and rip it to shreds, plop it on a bun, and crown it with a dollop of sauce. Voila: Pulled Chicken!
Serves. 2 people
Preparation time. 5 minutes to get ready, and about 2 hours to cook
1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds
4 tablespoons of Meathead's Memphis Dust, approximately
about 4 ounces of hard wood
Optional. In Georgia this could get you thrown in the Okefenokee Swamp, but try a variation on the theme: Remove the skin and dust it with my Simon & Garfunkel Rub. I like it better that way. OK, I'll shut up now.
Optional. If you want, you can paint the meat with sauce for about 30 minutes near the end of the cook. Then, if you want, you can sizzle the sauce on the hot part of a grill for a few minutes, lid off, watching it carefully because it can burn in a hurry. But I usually serve it without sauce.
1) Preheat your smoker to 325°F. If you are using a grill, set it up for 2-Zone or Indirect cooking. At 325°F, you can render more fat and crisp the skin a bit and avoid the possibility of the stall.
2) Split the chicken in half by cutting it with heavy shears. Rinse it, and make sure to get all that brown liver like goop nestled along the spine. In fact, I usually just remove the spine, toss it in a bag, and save it for making stock. Pat the meat and the bottom of the sink dry with paper towels. Lay the meat in the sink and dust both sides thoroughly with the spice mix.
3) Put the meat in the smoker or on the indirect side of the grill. Add about 4 ounces of wood for smoking and that's all. When it is gone, resist the urge to add more. After you've tasted it you can decide if you want to use more wood next cook. But it doesn't take much. Chicken just drinks it up. Cook for about 2-3 hours or until the temp in the thickest part of the meat without touching bone is 165°F.
4) You can crisp the skin a bit by exposing it to high heat. So if you are working on a grill, move it over high heat or put it under your kitchen broiler.
This page was revised 8/12/2011
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