In April the Accidental Locavore got a big, bright, shiny, red smoker. As part of the ongoing Charcutepalooza competition, smoking is one of the skills we were mastering. Since it was raining (again) last week, I thought why not smoke a chicken? Working with Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie book, the Locavore brined a lovely local bird overnight and put it in my smoker with a couple of big chunks of hickory. This recipe of Ruhlman’s calls for a maple-bourbon glaze. We happened to have a experimental (by my husband…late night shopping) bottle called “Snap” which is an 80 proof ginger flavored organic liqueur. Even though the rule of thumb when cooking with wine is don’t use anything you wouldn’t drink, maybe that doesn’t extend to other spirits… Snap went in the pot with brown sugar and maple syrup and got cooked down to a syrup. Halfway through smoking the chicken, we glazed it with the mixture. Smoking a chicken isn’t a laborious process, just a slow one. The chicken brines overnight and then smokes for almost five hours.
Was it worth it? Oh yes. The chicken was beautiful, a magnificent, mahogany color (the glaze contributing a lot to the special effects). It had a great smoky flavor and the white meat (never my favorite part) was still moist.
Anything to do different next time? Next time, the Locavore is not trussing the chicken until after it comes out of the brine. With the string holding it together, it was too hard to rinse the brine off really well and it ended up being salty. While the skin looked great, it was a little rubbery and if you pull off the skin, there goes the glaze. My father says he roasts the chicken after smoking it to crisp up the skin. How do you get the skin crisp?
The big light bulb idea…do two of them at the same time! They freeze well and the smoker will hold a few birds. Another even better big light bulb idea, courtesy of Saveur magazine, butterfly them! Duh…they’ll cook much faster flat. Definitely going to try that next time and may even add their white BBQ sauce.
What did I do with Ms. Gorgeous? Turned it into a lovely version of a Cobb salad with bacon, avocado, Roquefort, the smoked chicken, greens from my farmer, local purple asparagus (raw and thinly sliced) and homemade vinaigrette. It tasted as good as it looked.
Over the weekend we had my version of a chicken club sandwich with sliced smoked chicken breast, homemade mayo, local chipotle smoked bacon, Paul’s lettuce and the best looking tomato I could find. Pretty good but would be even better in a couple of months when the tomatoes are tasty! My editor, Lisa loves smoked chicken salad, what are your favorite uses for smoked chicken?