My first smoker Chicken

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My first smoker Chicken

Post  Jonesey73 on Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:21 am

So it's taken me ages to get my lazy backside into ordering a thermometer and it finally arrived last Friday with some Cocoshell briquettes and some Devon charcoal.
Picked up a Chicken yesterday and put it on around 3.30pm and the smoker chugged away running between 220 and 240ish.

Had to reload coals 3 times and couldn't ever get the temp up past 250 but I think that's down to my lack of experience and fire skills - hopefully I can improve on that.

Took the Chicken off after 3 hours and the temp on the thermometer was 190F ... it was the most juicy Chicken I've ever eaten ... stuffed the Chicken with a whole Lemon (halved), used butter, garlic and fresh Lemon Thyme and rubbed that under the skin, and also put a few bits of Lemon Thyme in the water pan.

Next time I'll use sand instead of water as I'm sure that's what kept my temperature down - would appreciate any advice / comments though.

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Re: My first smoker Chicken

Post  Mack on Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:29 am

Hi Jonesey,

Glad the chicken turned out well.
The water in the pan is basically there to control the temps, so with water the unit will not exceed 250 DegF, this is what the smoker is designed to run at.
The advantage of cooking at lower temps over longer periods of time is that the meat retains moisture.

I usually start of with 1/3 water in the pan, hoping that it will run dry towards the last 30 mins of the cook, so that the temp comes up and gives the bird a crispy skin.

Hope this helps
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Re: My first smoker Chicken

Post  Jonesey73 on Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:36 am

Hi Mack,

Yes, that makes perfect sense now ... should have posted this yesterday instead of just standing there looking at it ... pretty sure the neighbours thought I was mad just standing at the back of the garden, but hey ho.

Stupid question this, but I still had a smoke ring on the meat even though I didn't use any wood at all during the cook.
Is that just normal for the method of cooking?.
I had thought that it was just from wood smoke, but as I said, I'm a complete novice on this one.

Perhaps you should run a course on smoking ... I'd sign up!!!

Cheers
Jonesey.

ps - after taking the meat off, eating it, doing all the normal jobs I went back outside and found that the Excel was still chugging away, but at 350+ with hardly any coal left, so that was a 6 hour burn in total when I finally put water on it!!!.
Just need to perfect the minion method and I'll be cooking every weekend!!!!

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Re: My first smoker Chicken

Post  steveheyes on Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:10 am

I've stopped using water now, I go with a clay saucer in the water pan and it works amazingly well. With the added bonus of an easy clean up (everything gets wrapped in foil, and I remove the foil Very Happy )

I'm using much less charcoal now, I go with restaurant grade lump, I build the basket carefully and then burn it minion method with only 4 large lumps of lit charcoal. Or I hit it with a weed burner to light it if I'm feeling the need to burn something Very Happy
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Re: My first smoker Chicken

Post  Jonesey73 on Thu May 13, 2010 11:25 am

I'm intrigued by this clay saucer method ... do you not use any water in the pan at all, just lay a clay saucer in there?.
I've also heard of people filling the water pan half full of sand.

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Re: My first smoker Chicken

Post  Mack on Fri May 14, 2010 12:29 am

I'll let Steve answer on the Clay saucer, as I haven't tried that method.
Some people do put sand in the water pan instead of water, just make sure that it is clean sand, as any impurities will be transferred onto the food. I've also heard that with sand it is sometimes difficult to control the temps.
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Re: My first smoker Chicken

Post  Lozart on Fri May 14, 2010 3:24 pm

I use sand (about half full in the water bowl) and a small foil tray of water. Clean up is no issue as the top of the water bowl gets wrapped up in foil. As for temperature control, yes I would say it is a little trickier than just a bowl of water, but that said I could never get the temps high enough just using water.
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Re: My first smoker Chicken

Post  steveheyes on Thu May 20, 2010 8:04 pm

The clay saucer method is as simple as it sounds. I have a terracotta saucer, you know the type that sit under large planters, that is almost as big in diameter as the water pan. I foil the water pan, then foil the saucer and place it in the pan.

That's it, I then cook as if I was using water or sand, the saucer just acts a heat sink. This technique is very popular with the WSM guys, which is where I nicked it from.
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