Stalled Whole Chicken?

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by lionfishlair, Jun 28, 2015.

  1. Hi All,

    This is my first post here, and I'm new to smoking. While I've had some sucesses, I've also had some "not-so-good" moments like yesterday.

    I was going to smoke a whole "beer can" chicken for the first time, did all the rub, injection, mop, etc. Couldn't wait to see how it came out. Then came THE STALL...the internal temp of the bird in the fat part of the breast hit around 140*F and wouldn't budge...for hours. I understand evaporative cooling, and had read "just push thru the stall", but the sucker was cooking for like 7 hours and my grown boys were getting hungrier by the minute.

    I have a CampChef 24" Smoke vault, which is a vertical propane water smoker. My question is, should I not use the water pan for whole chickens, or anytime the meat stalls? I have to admit one of my fears is dry meat, so I tend to be a mopper, but in the case of this chicken, it was about every two hours when I added chips.


    Sorry for the long post,

  2. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome aboard! Mopping doesn't really do anything for the internal moisture of the meat. Kind of along the same lines as standing in the rain when you're thirsty.
    As for the stall, a little more info is going to be helpful. Like what was the pit temp? Chicken shouldn't stall, as the stall is the result of the evaporative cooling due to the breakdown of connective tissue. Very little connective tissue in chicken, especially breast meat, therefore no stall. For a chicken to hang at 140° for 7 hours leads me to one of two conclusions.
    1. Your thermometer somehow got switched over to Celsius, in which case your chicken is toast.
    2. Your pit temp is in the neighborhood of 140°, in which case you've pulled off low temperature pasteurization. If this is the case the bird would technically be safe to eat, though I'm guessing not exactly appetizing.
    Fill in the blanks and you'll get more answers.
  3. silly of me to forget...pit temp was 200-220 (depending on wind). Both pit and bird temps were measured with an iGrill thermometer, which I had checked against boilng water, and it was right on. I'm certain the thermometer is reading in degrees Fahrenheit.

    I actually cooked a larger chicken than I had planned, as I couldn't find anything less than about 5.5 lbs.

    The chicken was indeed a tad underdone, and needed a bit of "help" afterwards.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    At low temps <300°F, water pans slow down the cooking. Additionally, mopping is like evap cooling on steroids. All the mop moisture sucks heat out of the bird as it evaporates. It is just not needed as little moisture penetrates the skin. Crank the temp to 300-325 for your birds and in about 2 hours, depending on weight, the bird will be done and have a nice crispy skin...JJ
  5. Thanks JJ,

    Sometimes it's hard to get (and give) straight answers when it comes to BBQ-ing, as I do understand that each smoker, and each piece of meat is different, but it does seem like there ARE some answers if you ask the right folks.

    None of my friends smoke meat, so I have to rely on helpful tips and hints (I've read a LOT on the subject, but there's no question-answer in books, per se').

    I'll bump up the temp, lay off the mop, and pull the water pan next time.

    Just out of curiosity, is a water pan always a "bad" idea, or does it just depend on what you're smoking?
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Water in the pan seems to be a, How you were taught to do it thing. Some big time guys like Myron Mixon swear by using water but he also smokes everything at 325-350. Seems many of the low and slow guys skip the water or use it for an a couple hours and finish dry. Water in the pan sucks up energy. The moist air can help with maintaining meat moisture in a long cooking Brisket but just as many big guys go dry smoker and get juicy beef every time. I don't use it...JJ
  7. Thanks for the insight, JJ.

    I guess I'll experiment a bit based on your input and develop what works best for my smoker. It's gonna be tuff to give up the mopping, but i'll save that for grilling! lol

    Hope you have a great 4th of July weekend!

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015

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