Chicken is one of my favourite things to cook outdoors and one of the main reasons I got the Smokefire as for my own personal taste, I have never thought my old bullet smoker cooked chicken very well, due to its limitations of cooking at much higher than 275F even with all vents open and an empty waterpan. I think chicken cooks best at 350F and higher to get the crispy skin and I have been hoping this is where the Smokefire will shine and for the most part it has, from my early attempts.
The first thing I cooked was a 3kg turkey crown, that had been sitting in my freezer since Xmas and taking up a lot of space. So thought it would be a good idea to try that first. Anyway I brined it first in 1/2 cup of Kosher Salt + 1/2 cup of Granulated Sugar, which I dissolved in a jug of boiling water thoroughly and then topped up with cold water to room temperature and put the bird in the solution fully covered in it, with a lid on top for 24 hours in the fridge.
After the 24 hours I washed it thoroughly in the sink, put it on a rack and patted it dry. I put some room temperature butter inside the skin all the way round and added a simple rub of salt ,ground tellicherry pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika to the skin.
I put the Turkey Crown over a drip pan placed over the flavouriser bars as I was a bit worried about the grease flaring up, but needn't have worried and have cooked other chicken dishes with no problems so far since without a drip pan. I set an initial temperature of 275F for the first 2¾ hours and the final hour at 350F, hoping it would crisp the skin up. The skin certainly wasn't as crispy as I would like, but certainly wasn't rubbery as my usual attempts on my old bullet smoker, used to be. I would probably have done the final 15 minutes at 400-450F next time to see if that had any better results, with the skin.
Overall the finished result was excellent for a full Sunday meal and cold with chips and a stew for the following couple of days, the smoke flavour although not strong was noticeable and added something to the final taste of the meat, which was extremely juicy when sliced. I used the Weber Championship Blend Pellets on this cook
This was my first ever attempt at cooking chicken wings, but certainly won't be my last, cheap , cheerful and so tasty. Due to the situation in the world at the moment, I am finding it very difficult to find fresh ingredients in the shop for marinades so had to cheat and use a shop bought Pataks Lemon and Coriander packet. But was really pleasantly surprised with the finished flavour it produced with the finished wings and have added a couple of packets to the cupboard for future cooks.
I bought 2 kg of chicken wings, which weren't the biggest, I've ever seen so I just used the fatter bottom part and cut off and discarded most of the tips. I added them to a ziploc bag and added the marinade and gave it a good mix around so they were thoroughly coated and left them in the fridge for 4 hours
I then cooked them on the Smokefire for 1 hour @ 225F and just over 35 minutes @ 375F turning once, I used Weber apple pellets in the hopper. As others have said the Smokefire ran a little hotter on the right hand side, but I will know how to compensate for it next time, using the warming rack above and doing a bit of shuffling about, during the cook.
This up till then was by far the best thing I had cooked on the Smokefire and so very tasty. Between us we wolfed them all down with a smile on our face, they had a crispy slightly charred skin in places , juicy white meat and lovely flavour from the marinade. Definite winner.
A Full Sunday Chicken Dinner
I am starting to feel a bit braver now and thought I would try a full Sunday dinner on it, with all the trimmings using the free gift Weber Poultry Roaster for the first time that I got for purchasing my EX4. It is an interesting addition to have and I can see how it should work, but it is going to take a few more goes for me to understand how to cook the potatoes and vegetables perfectly alongside the chicken, but overall I feel it has real potential as a handy device to use with the Smokefire.
As in self isolation at the moment I had to rely on a home delivery chicken from the supermarket and although I ordered a large 2 kg+ one, I got a 1.6kg rather small bird. I would normally brine my chicken first but because it turned up on the day I was cooking it and it was so small I didn't bother this time, but it certainly didn't affect how the finished bird turned out.
I just added sea salt to the skin for this and nothing else. I was hoping by adding a lot of flavours to the cup part of the poultry roaster , that the bird sat on and putting a lemon inside the cavity to stop the steam escaping, whilst it was cooking. It would add all the flavour that was needed and it certainly did. We both have never tasted such a juicy finished chicken EVER, it was stunning.
As I said the prep of the bird was simple but I added to the cup the bird sat on about 150ml of fresh apple juice, with some fresh basil, dried sage and thyme and 3 smashed garlic cloves. I then sat the bird on top of the cup and placed a whole lemon cut into 4 quarters in the cavity at the top to stop the steam escaping. I added raw potatoes cut lengthways in half , along with carrots and parsnips cut the same and an onion cut into quarters. I added some sliced Cabbage after about 30 minutes into the roaster. The theory behind the Weber roaster, is as it cooks the chicken the juices from it go over the vegetables and cook them with the juices adding extra flavour to them.
I thought the chicken may take 90-100 minutes to cook at 375F but it did it in around 75 minutes, due to the size of it, which meant the vegetables were still a little raw and due to the size of the chicken not a lot of juice went over the vegetables and I never got to turn it up to 450F to crisp the skin up. The vegetables were a little Al dente, but edible. I think next time I will parboil the vegetable and potatoes for 10-15 minutes before adding them to the roaster, I think and hope that may help with the finished result of them, going forward, we'll see.
I also did a small bowl of stuffing for 45 minutes on the grill and some yorkshire puddings to go with it for a little over 10 minutes, the only part of the meal I didn't do was the gravy, but if I get a suitable cast iron pot going forward, I will do that also.
The chicken meat though was absolutely amazing, cooked to an internal temp of 168F and rested for 15 minutes, as I said earlier it was the juiciest chicken I have ever cooked in my life. I have a large chopping board and it flooded it, luckily there is grooves round the side of it, otherwise the worktop would have been covered in it. The flavours, moistness and a bit of smoke flavour from the Championship Pellets were just great. I sliced the back bone off and turned the chicken over and both breasts had fallen off from the breast bone cleanly and completely themselves.
As a side note to do as much as I could on the Smokefire, I cooked a shop bought jam sponge in it for 30 minutes at 380F, whilst we were eating the chicken and a slightly crispy smoky sponge works quite well tbh
If you have got this far down the page, thanks for reading and giving me your time.