Smoked Chicken – Kitchen|Pit Barbecue

by R.B. Quinn
smoked chicken

Smoked chicken finished on the grill. Plenty of smoke and a lot less fat. Another benefit of the hybrid approach to barbecue.

Any gas grill with a useable upper shelf can make you lazy about pulling out the smoker and smoking chicken. I love smoked chicken, but Shelf Chicken is our favorite walk-away, foolproof, perfect grilled chicken method. It requires very little effort and it never fails.

When I do fire up the smoker, there’s one thing about smoked chicken I don’t love — the fatty mouth feel it can create. Those yellow blobs of concentrated fat, some of which I cut out before cooking, don’t drip away during lower temperature smoking (225-250F) like they do on a higher heat grill or over fire. It makes for a slicker taste, and not in a good way, in my opinion. Nor do I like the tough chewy skin created in a moist smoker.

My easy solution to this problem is to briefly grill the chicken after it comes off the smoker. The higher grill temp really gets the fat moving and after 10 minutes or so using tongs I’ll turn the pieces on their sides and allow the fat to run out from under the skin. This step does not dry out the chicken. The chicken has been sitting on a piece of foil in a smoker with water steaming away from the pan below. Plenty of moisture to keep the meat from drying out.smoked chicken

Plus, sitting on the upper shelf of the grill, closer to the hot grill cover, the chicken skin crisps up nicely, one of the best attributes of grilled chicken that smoked chicken doesn’t offer.

What is the hybrid method?

Finishing smoked chicken on the grill has an added benefit–you can take the chicken off the smoker sooner and bring the internal temperature of the chicken to doneness (180F thigh, 170 breast). After about 130F meat can’t take much more smoke anyway. If you’re done fiddling with charcoal just to get the meat fully cooked, or you’re busy and need to get things wrapped up, pull the chicken off the smoker after a couple hours and finish the cooking on the grill. Use that upper shelf, medium heat. Check periodically with the instant read thermometer.

Final thought — if the upper shelf in your gas grill is no good or too small, just make one with a spare grill grate and a couple bricks.

smoked chicken

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