Smokin’ Chicken (and Salmon too)

Here’s today’s recipe!  Based on a couple things:

  1. The recipe my mom sent me called Amway Grand Plaza Grilled Chicken Midwest – in my Google Docs Recipes folder
  2. https://ohsweetbasil.com/how-to-smoke-chicken/

Other great info and ideas at these links – at some point I’d like to try the brine/minimal method:

  1. http://www.smokegrillbbq.com/brine-smoked-chicken-recipe.html
  2. https://www.traegergrills.com/recipes/poultry/whole-smoked-chicken

Anyway – here’s the plan today.  Make a marinade of the ingredients below, divide this among four butterflied (spatchcocked?  silly name) chickens in plastic bags, marinade overnight.  Then, smoke for four hours at 220℉, with the goal of getting internal temp on the breasts to 160℉-165℉.  Let the chicken rest, then carve it up.

Marinade – this is a simplified tripled version of the recipe (almost as the recipe suggests to do):

  • 3 cups apple juice
  • 3 cups oil
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1.5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp peppercorns (I’m gonna grind black pepper here)
  • 3 dashes Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf per chicken

I was able to find four approximately 4 lbs chickens at Costco for $.99 a pound.  While there, though, I decided to also grab the salmon…  It looked really nice, so I figured I might as well – save myself a little effort next weekend.

1820, 10 Feb: Finished prepping the chicken – they’re marinating in bags in the fridge.  I need to get better ziploc bags next time – actual ziploc ones.

1850, 10 Feb: Finished prepping the salmon, and it’s in the fridge brining.

0315, 11 Feb: Birds went on.  I added wood at 0530.

0715: Birds were 157℉.  I decided to leave them on until 0745 – then I realized that I forgot to begin the fish drying, so…

0730: Fish began drying.  I’m going to shorten the drying time by 30 min…

0750: Took the chicken off.  It had only risen to about 159℉ in that time – I really need a thermometer that stays in the meat, and is readable with the door shut.

0840: The chicken is delicious – I had a little right off the smoker and it just all comes apart easily.  In this time, I’ve cleaned the smoker a bit, and restarted it at 170℉.  The fish looks ready to go on, despite shortened dry time, so I’ll turn the temp down, open the smoke holes all the way like I thought about doing last time, and put it on at 0900, then carve up the chicken.

1300: Took the fish off.  It was at 147℉, which is hotter than desired…  Everything seems fine with it though – it stayed moist and didn’t give up much.  The flavor seems a little stronger, initially – smokier.  I like it, but time will tell if this is better.  The temperature seemed to be running a little hotter each time I checked it, this time, compared to others.

For next time:

  • Get in-meat thermometer, butcher paper, and knife sharpener.
  • If I end up liking this fish better, keep the vent holes half-open next time.  But – try to take the fish off a little earlier.

Now, I’m a little tired.

Third Smoking – Pork Butts and Salmon

I began prep on Sunday night with 16 lbs of pork butt split into three parts, and 5.5 pounds of salmon. I used the typical salmon recipe, this time I did one quart of brine and still separated things into 4 bags. I used this pulled pork recipe, and this dry rub recipe per Ben’s recommendation. The pulled pork recipe looked to be a reasonable beginner’s complexity, too… I considered this pork butt set to be just three of the one used in the recipe, so I had 1 cup of dry rub that I used on the three.

21 Jan 2018, 2020: Began prep of salmon and pork. Salmon was typical. I trimmed the pork, separated it pork and tied when necessary, then applied 3 Tbsp salt, dropped each in a gallon ziploc, and put them in the fridge overnight. I finished prep at around 2100.

22 Jan 2018, 1230: Prepped the dry rub, which made 2 or 3 cups. I used 1 cup of it over the three butt segments. To get the rub into a shaker, I used a sheet of paper from some junk mail as a funnel.

1315: Put butts in smoker at 225℉.

1345: Began fish drying.

1745: Butts have been on for 4.5 hours now at 225℉, time to check the temp! I want them to get to 203℉. Temp was 165℉. Unfortunately, Sarah and I need to eat sometime tonight, so I turned the temp up to 275℉.

1845: Butts are at 170℉. (Well, one of them, the other two were like 165℉).

2115: One butt was at 195℉, the other two were at 180℉. I removed the hotter one and we ate part of it – delicious. Very tender, but could probably be better.

2225: Two remaining butts are at 185℉.

23 Jan 2018, 0020: Removed the butts – one was at 195℉, the other 200℉. The 200℉ was extremely tender, next time I will go for the 203℉ temp.

0335: Put the fish on at 120℉. Just 1 or 2 min before putting them in, I cranked the temp to max to get smoke going. Next time I should give 5 to 10 min instead.

0740: In the intervening hours, I basted and modified the temp as per the recipe. I had little albumin – everything went beautifully. I took the fish off at 0740, one filet was at 135℉ and another at 142℉. Close enough – tastes good so far.

For the future:

  1. Plan for the butts to take 10 hours. They may even take longer.
  2. Dry rub was good, I think. Maybe leave a bit more fat on the butts next time – this time I tried to take it off, thinking of the brisket…
  3. A probe thermometer that can sit outside would be great… Multiple heads would help with the case where one butt was ready and the rest were not.
  4. Open the air holes for the fish. I think this might let more heat out, which will require the element to stay on more, which will generate more smoke. Just a thing to try, not sure it’ll work. I always get done with the fish with tons of wood still in there.

Second Smoking – Brisket and Salmon

Some notes from the second time I busted-out the smoker – I made brisket and salmon.

The brisket recipe is based on https://heygrillhey.com/recipe/texas-style-smoked-beef-brisket/, and the salmon recipe is the one I normally make.

I used a 16.5 lbs brisket from Costco, $2.99 per pound.  Turned on the smoker to 225, added hickory wood chips.  Trimmed 1-2 lbs fat off, took just over half an hour to trim.  Sliced it in half so it would fit in the smoker. Took out two smoker racks to help it fit.

Put on 4 Tbsp kirkland sea salt, 4 Tbsp kirkland course ground Malabar black pepper, 2 Tbsp McCormick garlic powder. Sprinkled it on mostly using an old McCormick spice container. Rubbed it in a little.

1330, 30 Dec: Began smoking brisket, added 1 qt water at that time (should’ve done it sooner but forgot)

I plan to smoke it until internal temperature is 165℉, and expect that will take more than 8 hrs, but I plan to check temperature at 6. When meat hits 165℉, I’ll wrap it in foil like a present, then put it back in the smoker without wood at 225℉ until the thickest part hits 202℉. Maybe 6 hours more. After it hits 202℉, I’ll take it off and wrap it in a towel and let it sit at room temp for 2 hours.

1930, 30 Dec: At 6 hours it was at 155℉

2030, 30 Dec: At 7 hours it was at 158℉. I will check again at 9 hours, 2245 or so.

2245, 30 Dec: It was ready to be wrapped, at 165℉. I wrapped it.

0430, 31 Dec: Brisket was at 200℉.

0615, 31 Dec: Brisket was 207℉ and I took it off, let it rest for two hours.  I turned the smoker way down to the fish temperature.

0815, 31 Dec: Sliced it, put most in the fridge, got a stomach ache from eating too much fatty parts.  Delicious fatty parts

The brisket was fantastic, and I want to do the same thing again.  There are a couple changes I should make though.

  1. Don’t use foil, use butcher paper next time.  The foil broke in some small places, especially where it really stuck to the meat, and left little bits of foil on the meat that were tough to get off.
  2. Get a thermometer I can leave in the meat so I don’t have to open the door.
  3. Trim off more fat next time – get closer to what the source recipe recommended.  The fattyness this time was reasonable, but it would be better with a little less.

I started the salmon during the brisket…

1420, 30 Dec: started salmon brining, I should start them drying when I wrap the meat, I should start them smoking when the meat comes off.

2245, 31 Dec: started salmon drying

0840, 31 Dec: I started the salmon smoking – this was after the brisket had finished resting and I had cleaned the smoker just enough to do a different meat.  I cleaned the racks and water tray. The drain valve at the bottom of the smoker was plugged with frozen beef fat – I cleared it a little, there was certainly still some in there though, it didn’t affect much

1240, 31 Dec: The salmon finished smoking – right on time as it always does.

The result with this salmon was that it was fantastic again.  The starting temperature on the salmon is very low – so low that the wood doesn’t burn much.  Before starting, I cranked the smoker up a bit to get more smoke rolling.  I let it go at this temperature for several minutes – the temperature in the smoker rose significantly.  That wasn’t great – when I put the salmon in I turned the temperature down and left the door open to cool it a bit, but the salmon definitely started by losing more moisture than I’d prefer.  In the future – cranking the smoke like this is a good idea, but I need to use a lower temp setting for a bit, keep the vent on top fairly closed, and not go too long.  And also I shouldn’t worry about it too much – smoke still rolls.

The worst part about this fish was that it was already a little beat up – not the best fish I’ve gotten from Costco.  Still fairly beautiful, I can’t complain.

First Smoking – Salmon

Some notes from the first time I used the smoker – I made smoked salmon.  The result was awesome – I’ve made it a couple times since then, and am just dropping this here for future note.

Recipe: https://honest-food.net/how-to-smoke-salmon-recipe/

I really just followed the instructions.  I used Diamond Crystal Kosher salt, as he recommends – which, BTW, is probably going to become my goto salt.  I used Costco salmon without the skin on – it worked perfectly.  I brined in Ziploc bags – no problem.  The whole thing came out perfectly.  I think I only brined for a few hours, then dried for a few hours.  Since then, I’ve brined and dried for longer, but this first batch of fish really needed no improvement.