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BBQ Barbecue on a Budget

smoked whole chicken

When people think of budget-friendly meals, one pot wonders and casseroles usually come to mind. Grilling or smoking is a fun and simple way to mix things up for your next meal. Grilling on a budget may mean that premium cuts like NY strip steaks and ribeyes will be relegated to special occasions, but more affordable choices can be just as delicious. Here, we’re using a whole chicken rather than more expensive breasts. On average, whole chickens cost between $1.99 and $2.99 per pound, while chicken breasts cost anywhere from $2.49 to $2.59 per pound. Buying a whole chicken means you don’t pay extra for the labor of breaking down the chicken into pieces. You’ll also be able to satisfy white and dark meat lovers alike, and you’re more likely to have leftovers for sandwiches the next day! If buying a whole chicken still sounds like a lot, thighs and legs are also great affordable options.

If you’re not an avid grill-smoker, knowing which wood to choose for smoking meats might feel a little daunting. While any of the recommended woods we included in this recipe will make for delicious smoked chicken (or turkey!), each has its own distinctive characteristics. Applewood is mellow, with a subtle sweetness. Cherrywood also imparts sweetness and creates a beautiful reddish mahogany finish on poultry and pork. Cherrywood also pairs nicely with richer woods like hickory. Maplewood adds a deeper, sweeter flavor to smoked meats, but will still let the natural flavors of meats like chicken shine. A favorite standby for BBQ fans, hickory adds a more traditional smoke flavor that pairs well with everything from chicken to beef ribs to pork shoulder. Apple, cherry and maple woods will complement the sweetness of our rub, while the nutty flavor of hickory will contrast nicely. If using hickory, you might want to start with one to two chunks as it will impart a stronger flavor than sweeter woods.

So the next time you plan a family meal, think outside the one pot/casserole box and make this fantastic and budget-friendly Brown Sugar-Herb Rubbed Smoked Whole Chicken, and enjoy those leftovers!

, Free Cooking and BBQ Magazine

BBQ on a Budget

Brown Sugar-Herb Rubbed Smoked Whole Chicken
4 quarts water
¾ cup kosher salt
¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup granulated sugar
1, 3 ½ – 4 lb chicken

Vegetable oil

¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup, plus 2 T light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 T plus 1 ½ tsp sweet paprika
1 T plus 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
2 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T lemon pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 1/8 tsp dry mustard powder
1/16 tsp (about 2 pinches) cayenne pepper
1 ½ tsp dried thyme leaves

Tools to have on hand:
• Smoker
• Large pot for brining (plus space in your refrigerator)
• Kitchen twine
• 2-4 large wood chunks soaked in water for at least 3 hours (suggested: apple, cherry, maple, or hickory woods)
• Reliable meat thermometer (preferably digital/instant read digital)

1. To make the brine, heat 1 quart water on the stove or in a microwave until warm. Dissolve salt and sugars in the warm water. Add remaining 3 quarts of water. Place the chicken in the brine and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to overnight. Make sure the chicken is fully submerged. You may need to weigh the chicken down with a heavy dinner plate.
2. Light smoker of choice with charcoal. Add wood chunks and readjust temperature to 250-275ᵒ F.
3. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse inside and out under cold running water. Pat completely dry and set aside. Disinfect your sink and surrounding areas.
4. Tie the legs together with the kitchen twine and tuck wing tips behind the chicken.
5. Rub chicken with oil and season on all sides with the rub.
6. Place chicken directly on the grates. Close the lid and smoke the chicken for 3-4 hours until the thickest part of the breasts register 165ᵒ F and 170-175ᵒ in the thickest part of the thighs.
7. Remove the chicken and allow to rest at least 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

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