Monday, September 26, 2011

BBQ Chicken - My Way

Pretty much every time I see or hear someone is doing BBQ chicken its usually a bunch of misc chicken parts drowned in bottled BBQ sauce and grilled. Just not my kind of dish really. The idea for this recipe came from some recent inspirations from Rick Bayless, Bobby Flay and Grady Spears.  Not bad company I say. 

I like chicken breasts.  On the bone, skin-on chicken breasts. Its like a blank canvas. You can impart any flavors that you want with it. There is also more meat to work with (most of the time).  I brined the chicken for 4 hours and it made a huge difference.  I was concerned about them drying out in the smoker but no, these were very moist.  Leaving the skin on also helps hold in some moisture.

I had not used pecan wood much in the smoker. Actually, I can't remember the last time I used it.  I love the aroma that fills the neighborhood. It's like a manly aroma therapy. Sitting there smelling that smoke will get you very relaxed. Maybe that's just me.  I wasn't too worried about the temperature of the smoking chamber. I know it never gets over 350 when i use wood. I was more concerned with the smoke.  It seemed like it took forever to get the smoke level where i wanted it. You can't get good flavor from billowing white smoke.  You have to let the wood burn down a little to where you barely see the smoke.  They call it "Blue Smoke". Sometimes you just have to be patient.

I made a quick dry rub for the chicken, took them out of the brine, dried them, worked in the rub really well and let them sit out while the fire was burning down.  After they went into the smoker I re hydrated some ancho chiles and made my BBQ sauce so it could sit and let the flavors intermingle.  The chicken smoked for an hour before i checked on it. It looked pretty good so I went ahead and basted it with the BBQ sauce. I wanted the sauce to cook into the skin, absorb a little smoke and burn(caramelize) just a little.  After 30 minutes I pulled the chicken from the smoker and put it into a 350 degree oven to set the glaze. and firm up the skin.  Worked perfectly. The internal temperature was up to 185 but it it was oozing clear juices when I pulled the probe out so I knew it was gonna be moist.

You have to let this cool a little before you dig in to it. All that moisture will continue to steam on the inside.  You'll want to use your fingers to pull the chicken apart so let it sit and cool to save your fingertips.

On to the recipe....


6 Large Bone-In, Skin-On Chicken Breasts


1 Gallon of water
1 cup of ice
1 cup of kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns

Dry Rub

1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt

BBQ Sauce

5-6 dried ancho chile's (stem & seeds removed)
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chile powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Agave nectar
2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce (optional)


First you need to brine the chicken.  Add sugar, kosher salt, peppercorns and water to a large stock pot. Heat the water just enough to dissolve the sugar and salt. turn off the heat and add the ice to cool it down. Stir around until the ice melts and the water is cool.  Add the chicken to the water being sure that all the chicken is completely submerged. Put a plate or pan lid on top of the chicken to help keep it submerged.  Put the pot into the refrigerator and let it sit for 4 hours or more.

Get a good pecan wood fire going in your smoker and let it burn down until most of the white smoke subsides.  Remove the chicken from the brine, dry it off and set aside.  In mixing bowl combine the dry rub ingredients and mix with your hands to get rid of any lumps.  Coat the chicken liberally with the rub and set aside on a foil lined baking sheet.

Once the smoker is ready, place the chicken in the smoker, close it up and don't touch it for an hour. 
While the chicken is smoking, make your BBQ sauce. 

Put the ancho chiles in a medium sauce pan and cover with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Transfer the re hydrated chiles (not the water) to a blender with 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Blend until smooth. You might need to scrape the lid and sides a few times and you might need to add in up to another 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  This needs to be very smooth and no chunks of chile pod left behind.  Pour the cooking water out of the pot and add in the ancho puree and remaining BBQ sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Let sit.

After the chicken smokes for an hour, generously baste the tops of the breasts with the BBQ sauce and close the smoker. Cook for another 1/2 hour.  Preheat your oven to 350(F).  After the 1/2 hour is up place the chicken on a foil lined baking sheet and place into the oven. Insert a temperature probe into the largest breast. Pull the chicken once the internal temperature is 170(F) degrees. Let cool for 15 minutes before you try to cut or dig into it. 

Serve with some of the BBQ sauce on the side and a big pile of napkins.

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