“Life is better with chickens around.”
Obviously, this recipe can apply to any cut of chicken (including whole) as long as it is bone-in and with the skin; both are necessary to enhance the flavor of the meat as well as adding moisture. When you serve chicken halves, especially two or more at a time, everybody leaves the table satisfied & happy because their favorite piece was available. Smoked chicken halves are perfect for outdoor eating, whether it is a picnic or dining on the patio, because smoked chicken is delicious when served at room temperature.
This recipe is best explained in three parts: (1) cutting the chicken, (2) brining the chicken, and (3) smoking the chicken.
CUTTING. Although they do offer quartered chickens as well as completely cut up chickens, most grocery stores no longer offer halves. The butcher department in most grocery stores will cut/saw your whole chicken in half for you if you purchased the product from their store. Many experienced meat smokers will tell you to cut the bird yourself by cutting along both sides of the backbone with kitchen shears and removing the keel bone. Personally, I don’t use kitchen shears (or run with scissors) and I don’t know enough bird anatomy to identify the keel bone. So, I let the butcher do the work or I take my meat cleaver and halve the bird with one, sometimes two, chops!
BRINING. If you’ve never smoked a brined a chicken before, you are going to be amazed at the difference it makes. Brining adds moisture and flavor to the chicken making it so juicy, succulent and tender; it even lessens the smoking time.
(a.) Place the chicken parts in a large zip-lock plastic bag or large glass bowl with a lid.
(b.) Mix 1 cup of Kosher salt and ¾ cup of sugar into several quarts of cold water and stir
until well dissolved.
(c.) Pour the brine mixture over the chicken until covered and refrigerate for 4 hours.
(d.) After 4 hours, rinse the chicken under cold water and set aside for final prep.
SMOKING. Set up your smoker to begin cooking at 225°F and then follow these steps:
(a.) Before placing the chicken in the smoker, prep it by patting it dry with paper towels.
Then, brush it completely all over with Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup and follow that with
a good dusting with your favorite Cajun or Creole powdered seasoning (I use Cajun
Power All Purpose Cajun Seasoning).
(b.) Place the chicken, skin up, directly on smoker grate.
(c.) Insert a temp probe in the breast or thigh or both and smoke for one hour at 225°F.
(d.) After the first hour, adjust the smoker temp to 325°F to finish and crisp up the skin.
(e.) When the internal temp of the breast or thigh reaches 165°F, the bird is ready to
come out of the smoker.