Whole Chicken Brine or Not

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by xzebra, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. xzebra

    xzebra Fire Starter

    I want to smoke a whole chicken this weekend and have a few questions.

    First should I brine or not?  Many say yest, but others say it is not needed.  And if I do what to brine in (mixture of course and where do you put your chicken LOL)?  Sorry I am new to this.

    Second how long do you smoke your chicken; is 1/2 of the cook time correct?

    Third what type of wood?  I was thinking an apple/oak mixture.

    Any other things I should know before hand?

    Thanks again to all the great/helpful individuals here....You people are great!
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    My experience has been that brining fresh (not cryo-vac packed) birds can yield very noticeable results, while those already in a solution does not provide much impact to the finished product regarding retained moisture or added flavor. It's an osmosis thing, and when a bird has already been soaking in a salt solution, you have to use a solution with higher concentration than already used, or yours wont penetrate the meat. If you do raise the salt concentration too high, it can result in very salty birds, even if you used a no-salt dry rub.

    Pops has done alot more brining than I have...I'll send him a PM and he'll be here shortly, I expect.

    As for your other questions, I smoke the entire cooking time as long as my smoke is not excessively heavy.

    Apple is a very good choice for birds...oak may be too heavy for the lighter flavors of the chicken, but you could use a blend with a smaller ratio of oak, say 75% apple to 25% oak. Pecan, if you have any, is nice with hickory at about 2/3 to 1/3 ratio.

    Cook to minimum internal temp of 165* as measure by a thermometer in the breast and thigh, but I prefer just under 170* in the breast and just over 170* in the thighs, for less pink near the bone...165* may show some pink, so use your own judgement there...we don't like pink bird meat here.

  3. Forluvofsmoke gave some great tips. I like to brine poultry as well. My latest find from Meathead is a nifty way of measuring water and salt for a brine: fill a two cup measuring cup with one cup hot water. Then add salt until it reaches one and a half cups. Add the salt water slurry to a gallon of water. Comes out perfect very time and for any salt. Any brand Kosher, pickling, table, etc is good to go -- it displaces the same amount of water. If you need more brine simply double or triple the times you measure to 1.5 cups and the amount of water you add it to.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2013
  4. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Right on the above two answers! I like to go 1 step further and brine my birds in a CURING solution, like curing a ham or bacon; makes them flavorful like a ham. I use, per 1 gallon of plain water, ½ cup non-iodized table salt, ½ cup white sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, and 1 tbsp. pink salt (curing salt). That usually must be ordered unless you have a local market making its own smoked sausages
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you are looking for additional flavor profiles, then go ahead and brine. I myself prefer to not brine my chickens. Mostly because I do them as a last minute, oh my gosh I want to smoke something for dinner smokes. I really like to spatchcock my chickens. They cook faster and I like the presentation. I do ally chickens in a hot smoker, 325*-350*. I prefer pecan, cherry, and apple for the wood. As the others have said cook to IT, not time. A spatched bird cooking high temp doesn't take long, 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours top.
  6. I am going to try using the beer can method without brining this weekend. I figure the vapor in the beer should keep it moist and I'm not going to have time to brine as I am picking up the birds in the same morning I am smoking them. I'll let you know how they come out,
  7. thunderjet

    thunderjet Newbie

    What type of container are you folks using to hold the chicken and brine in the refrigerator?
  8. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I generally use a food grade plastic bucket...
  9. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My Special Chicken briner, 1 gallon tupperware, chicken fit in perfectly. It fits in the reefer without worry of spills or leaks.

    Drop it in head first pull it out feet first. 

    A ziploc bag works fine but I set it in a bowl just in case.
  10. I brine if I have time, it does take it up a notch or two but either way is great. Fish brine is a must in my opinion. Try brining pork chops for a BBQ it really plumps up those dense fibers.  
  11. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'll sit back and wait for the Q-View . .  .[​IMG]
  12. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A 1.5 gallon bucket from my local homebrew supply works great! Small enough to fit in most refrigerators, seals tight, and easy clean up.

    I use pop's brine and love it!

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