Applewood Smoked Chicken
Awhile ago, a windstorm blew down one of my favorite apple trees. Matt, ever the optimist, suggested we make some apple chips for smoking meat. It has turned out to be one of my favorite dishes. I start the day before with a maple/lemon brine and then plan on 4 hours for smoking the next day. The result is fall off the bone deliciousness!
Start with a brine the day before, or at least 3 hours before you plan to start the grill.
Mix 1 gallon of water with 1 cup of salt.
½ cup of maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons fresh thyme
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
10 pepper corns
Submerge the chicken in the brine and rotate a few times during the brining period.
My smoking method varies from more advanced grills with smoking accessories, but I find this old Weber (pictures) does pretty well! First I lay tinfoil on the bottom or the grill to keep air out. Then I fill a charcoal chimney with lump charcoal (vs. briquets which can impart an unwanted flavor). When the charcoal is just barely beginning to heat on the top, I dump it out and push it to one side of the grill. On the other side, lay a tinfoil baking pan. Once the lump charcoal has settled into its new position, cover it with 3 handfulls of apple chips which have been smoked. Lay the grill across all this, brush it with oil and put the chicken above the tinfoil pan. Cover immediately and shut the grill down almost all the way. You want plenty of smoke without completely smothering the heat.
Check on the chicken periodically and add more wet chips if you see that the charcoal is beginning to burn up what is there. After 3 hours, check the temperature of the chicken with a thermometer. Put the thermometer in a thick part of the chicken without hitting the bone. The safe temperature for chicken is 165. I tend to let it go until 180. Check both sides of the chicken and if necessary turn the chicken so the other side is near the heat. You can serve the chicken right away, or remove from grill, cover tightly with foil and serve when you’re ready!
This smoking method also works for wings (check out the maple wings recipe). I put the wings directly in the tinfoil pan and put the pan on the grill. Cooking time for wings tends to be 1 ½ hours. Pour the sauce on the wings after an hour and stir periodically.