Add a little smoke to your chicken
After a summer of grilling on the barbecue, even the best steaks begin to get boring. As in all things, repetition can create ennui. If this sounds like you, then it is time to stop grilling and time to start smoking.
It is important to know the difference between the two. Grilling involves fast cooking, often searing foods over high heats and cooking over direct heat. Smoking is cooking foods on a low heat and for long periods of time, often with indirect heat. People often use the phrase “Low and Slow” to talk about real barbecue. While I enjoy the barbecue and love the flavour of a grilled steak (rib-eye all the way), a nicely smoked piece of meat is to die for.
The way that smoke penetrates and creates a beautiful ring (barque) is something that is truly amazing. If you have never had true barbecue, then your culinary dining experience is incomplete. I recommend finding a place with a pit master and a smoker that get lots of work. The more it gets used, the better the flavour usually is.
While a smoker would be ideal and typically yields the best results, it is not absolutely necessary in order for you to get true barbecue flavour at home. There are two key items for best results: a) smoke — you can make this with a smoker box (cast iron) or foil pouches; and b) a dry rub (see below). A true barbecue rub takes a long time to perfect, years to master and is usually highly guarded, but it is well worth experimenting to find the one that works best for you.
Don’t be disappointed that barbecue is more than grilling; see it as an opportunity to learn a new way of cooking. It may take longer, it may take patience, but it will be well worth it with the first bite of true backyard barbecue.
smoked barbecue chicken
1 whole chicken (split in half)
1/4 cup barbecue dry rub (2 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp pepper, 3 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp each brown sugar, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, mustard powder)
3 cups wood chips (soaked for at least one hour)
Tin foil (3 large pieces)
Mix all rub ingredients well. Season all sides of chicken evenly. Let chicken rest for 1 hour (leave at room temperature; if placed in fridge, remove 30 min prior to cooking).
Remove grate from one side of barbecue and turn on burner (same side) to low. Preheat to 250˚F.
Place 1/3 of wood chips into each piece of foil. Wrap and curl edge to create individual pouches. Use a fork and pierce each side 5 to 6 times.
Place chicken on top rack (skin-side up), on opposite side of barbecue to heat source. Place 1 wood chip pouch directly on burner (should begin to smoke within a couple of minutes). Change pouch every 45 min. Flip chicken over after 1 1/2 hours.
Cook chicken for 2 1/2 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Match: Serve with a bright Sauv Blanc from the New World and enjoy.