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Got a Smokette for Christmas. Thought I would try chicken today for the first time (probably beer can).

In reviewing this sites recipes, forums, other sites, and several cookbooks, recommendations for amount of wood (2-3 oz.) and internal temps (160 white/180 dark) are consistent. However, I've noticed a wide divergence in times and temperatures. recommended cooking temps range from 190 to 250. Times range from 2 hours to 6 hours at a wide variety of the temps. I know that "it's done when it's done" but does anybody have a recommendation for a pretty fail safe method. I'm going to cook 2 chickens, each about 3.5 lbs.

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IMO the temp issue with poultry is a matter of whether you want edible skin or not. You can smoke as low as 200 F with good results, but the skin will be rubbery. I find that if I cook at 250 F it's just hot enough to make the skin slightly crisp and good enough to eat. I cook birds at 250 F. A 4 lb brined bird takes me 3 - 3.5 hours to hit 160 F in the breast.

Another thing you can try to get maximum heat which I use on poultry sometimes is to put the meat on the lowest rack closest to the firebox.
Joseph is correct.

For chicken, your first try, use 250. Since you're not brining them, it might take just a little longer than his times, but just a little more.

If you have more chicken questions, try the poultry archive for some ideas. And I know of a few posts using the beer can chicken method. You could search for that too. Me, I'm not a fan of that method, in a CS, since the CS does a great job keeping the humidity high in the smoker, but give it a shot.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.
Joseph / Smokin:

Some good news and some bad news regarding the results.

Good news - Followed your advice with 250 and the chickens registered 165 white / 180 dark at the 3.5 hour point. BTW - Used Empire Kosher chickens which really don't benefit much from brining. The smoke was perfect at 2 oz. Skin was still somewhat rubbery but the meat was very moist and tastey. Simply removed and tossed the skin and it was a hit with all.

Bad News - Never again will I do beer can chicken on a CS. Had trouble keeping them upright and, as mentioned by Smokin, I don't think it really adds much, if anything, for all the hassle. Also, used 3 TBS CS Poultry Rub mixed with 1 cup mayo. Rubbed both under and on top of the skin. When I opened the smoker at 3 hrs to check, the mayo in the "somewhat" vertical birds had liquified due to the heat and was leaking out. Hell of a mess but, once I got everything under control, it was a damn good meal.

As an aside, the last check with an instant read was at 3.5 hrs and everything was perfect. Turned the smoker off, closed the door so the chickens wouldnt cool too fast (22F), and went to get my neoprene gloves, foil, and a tray. Returned, opened the door, and there sat another dead instant read still in the chicken's thigh.(happens 2 - 3 times a year).

Lessons learned here - Forget the beer can, forget the mayo (at least in quantity), remember the instant read.

Thanks again
Well, you were still able to eat it, so count it as a good run. You gotta love Q when you can still eat your experiments.

Some love the beer can method, and that's fine for them. They've invited can "sitters" for that very reason, hard to balance.

The mayo method will run off like that, even when you lay it down. The idea there is that since mayo is moistly oil, the oil helps keep the bird moist. You don't have to, it's just an idea. AND never put something else under the chicken when you use the "mayo method" as the mayo drips on everything and yuck!

There is a post about reviving Polders, let me see if I can find it.

Glad you had success, thanks for reporting.

Smokin - Thanks for the effort in Polder thread. I was not using a Polder probe (Sored it somewhere and can't locate it yet). I used a simple Taylor instant read - open door, insert thermometer, read temp, remove thermometer, close door. I stupidly forgot to remove the thermometer and the extended time in heat destroyed the temp display. As I mentioned earlier, I've done this before on grills, ovens, etc.

Also, thanks for the tip on cooking anything below mayo. A common sense item that I probably would have overlooked in the future. Along these lines, it would probably make sense to use disposable aluminum roasting pans. However, I think I recall reading a post somewhere that the smoking effect is reduced when doing this. I don't see how this could be, but maybe so. What do you think?

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