Friday, July 9, 2010

Smokin’ Dan’s Chickens & the Fourth of July

These smoked  chickens were just a part of a Fourth of July celebration last Saturday hosted by my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Liz and Bob. We also had two pork roasts, each about 14 pounds, lovingly tended on the spit by my DH, and more than 10 pounds of breaded and pan fried bluegill fish. All for about 50 people! To say we ate well is an understatement. And everyone brought at least one dish. There were potato salads, macaroni salads, fruit salads, slaws, salads of all kinds (I made my first ever panzanella salad. It was great!), fresh fruit, beans, dips and spreads and pita chips and chocolate everything. Did I mention margaritas? I think we must have been celebrating our independence from watching our calories!

Son-in-law Dan loves to cook. The Fourth of July picnic is a pretty traditional routine – my husband and Bob tend the meat and everyone brings a dish they want to share. (Except Bob didn’t give our friend Susie a choice --- she had to bring her stuffed banana peppers. She did. More on that next time.)

But Dan was going to miss out on the cooking part because he lives an hour and a half away and his wife was working, so he decided he was going to smoke some chickens and bring them along when her hospital shift was over.  Now I think smoking meat is an act of love (so is slow roasting pork on a spit, for that matter; right, hon?) because it’s got to be tended and it takes a long time. We have a smoker but our experiences have not been so hot. We smoked some salmon once when we first got the smoker, and the fish was good but it was done way before any guests had arrived. Another time we started a turkey in the smoker while camping, went boating for the afternoon, and returned to a shriveled, dried bird. Almost like eating crow!

But after eating Dan’s chicken, we’re ready to give it another go. He decided to do this after he’d returned from a beach vacation in South Carolina and he had wings that had been smoked before being all sauced up. Anyhow, he was hot to smoke and it was worth it.

Typically Dan makes things up as he goes. This is how he smoked the chickens: First, he put Emeril’s seasoning, the original one, on two of the chickens and Barbecue 3000, from Penzey’s, on the other two. He also added thyme to the spice mixtures, because that’s his wife Renae’s favorite herb. Then he rubbed the seasonings all over the birds. He also stuffed them with carrots, celery and garlic. More carrots, celery and the Barbecue 3000 seasoning went into the pot of liquid that goes in the bottom of the smoker.

He used hickory wood chips and said it smelled great as it smoked. Next time he’ll try apple. We’ll supply the wood after apple tree trimming! He smoked the chickens for about 3 ½ hours, starting breast side down for 1 ½ hours then flipping them for the remainder.

He did a great job, especially since he lost the English instructions for the smoker and had to translate the Spanish version to learn the recommended cooking times for different kinds of meat. He was reminded that pollo means chicken in Spanish. Resourceful fellow.


  1. they look great!! we tried apple chips last weekend, you will love the flavor


  2. I love the smell of applewood period. Can't wait to try it in the smoker, too!

  3. mmm it is grey and miserable here and I think that if I had one of those it would perk my day up no end :)


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