It’s the time of year for grilling and smoking, long weekends, holidays, outdoor family gatherings and all those events that scream outdoor cooking. So in celebration of being able to cook outdoors it’s time to introduce Bobby’s smoking, new toy – a Pit Barrel Cooker. For years he has used his gas grill as a smoker, but, even though the results have been great, the process is rather cumbersome. The pit barrel cooker has simplified the setup, the cleanup, the overall process, and the results…fabulous. It’s hard to say what I’ve enjoyed most – the pulled pork, pork ribs, or these smoked chickens. Everything that comes out of the barrel is mouthwatering, but the herb smoked chicken is the epitome of smoked chicken.
After mentioning that his smoker could smoke 4 whole chickens as once, Bobby had no choice but to smoke some chickens. He started with two whole chickens which he cut in half to hang in the smoker. For one chicken we used a basic all purpose chile rub and for the second chicken, we made a herb rub (below) which was the winner by a long shot! The flavors of the herb rub seemed to have penetrated the meat more than the chile rub, yielding a very herby, smoky chicken. Next time, for the chile rub, we’ll try my New Mexico Red Chile Spice Blend. I’ve used it with grilled chicken before and I think it will be excellent on smoked chicken.
You don’t need a pit barrel smoker to make this chicken. You can use any method you normally use to smoke meats; however, the timing might be different because your toys are different. But the chicken prep and the temperatures should be the same. After 4 hours of resting with the rubs and 1 ½ hours of smoking, we had two perfect chickens – tender, tasty and moist.
Below is the recipe for the Herb Dry Rub and the methods we used to prep and smoke the chickens.
(Note: This is NOT a sponsored post. We just really like the pit barrel cooker and wanted to share.)
Herb Dry Rub Recipe for Smoked Chicken
This dry rub can be used for whole chickens, halves or pieces…roasting, grilling or smoking.
Recipe authors: Bobby and MJ of MJ’s Kitchen
Inspired by the Simon & Garfunkel Spice Blend at Amazing Ribs
Makes a little more than 1/2 cup rub
Prep time: 15 minutes
1 Tbsp. crushed dried sage
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. dried crushed oregano
1 Tbsp. dried crushed tarragon
3 large dried crushed bay leaves
1 Tbsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 scant Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
- Place the crushed herbs in a spice grinder and pulse 3 – 4 times until herbs are blended and near powder form.
- Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the pepper, salt, and sugar.
- Lightly coat the poultry with oil. Coat the chicken generously with the rub.
Smoked Chicken Preparation and Process
Prep the chicken at least 4 hours prior to smoking or overnight.
1 – 2 whole chickens
¼ – ½ cup dry rub
- Using kitchen shears, remove the backbone by cutting along both sides. Reserve for stock.
- Cut the chicken in half by cutting lengthwise through the center of the breastbone. You can use the shears, a cleaver, or large knife.
- Wash and dry each half of the chicken.
- Coat both halves with a light layer of oil. Sprinkle a generous amount of rub onto all sides of the chicken.
- Transfer chicken halves to a covered container and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes prior to placing in the smoker.
Smoking the chicken
- For herb rub chicken, about an hour before starting the smoker, soak 6 – 8 long sprigs of rosemary in a bowl of water.
- Prepare your smoker according to instructions.
- Once the smoker is ready, place two 1″ – 2″ blocks of hickory on the coals of the smoker along with the drained rosemary (for herb rub chickens). (Other woods would work – apple, pecan, mesquite – your preference.)
- Place the chickens in the smoker according to your smoker’s instructions. If possible, insert a remote reading temperature probe in one of the chicken breasts.
- Cover the smoker and when its internal temperature reaches 250° F, start a timer. Smoke the chicken at a temperature of 250 – 275° F for 1 ½ – 2 hours or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160° – 165º F.
- Once the chicken gets close to 160°F, prepare a gas or charcoal grill for high heat.*
- When the temperature for the chicken is reached, removed the chicken and place on the grill to crisp up the skin even more. It only takes a minute or two per side.
- Serve and enjoy!!
*This last step is optional. The chicken does come out of the smoker with somewhat crispy skin, but we like it really crispy. So this last step on the grill was well worth it.
Grilling the Chicken – The herb rub can be used on grilled chicken, roast chicken or smoked, whole chickens or chicken pieces. It’s best to coat the chicken with a generous amount of rub 3 to 4 hours prior to cooking.
Freezing leftovers – These chickens freeze very well and remain tender and moist. Wrap each half in foil or parchment and seal in a freezer bag. When ready to use, remove from the freezer and let thaw.
Using the leftovers – Eat the leftovers as whole pieces of chicken or remove from the bone and use in a soup, pasta dish or chicken salad. Add to this Shredded Greens & Cukes Salad for a complete meal.
A great website for smoking/grilling techniques and ideas: Amazing Ribs