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I'm doing some chicken parts (breasts and thighs), and natureally I'm brining. I found this Drunken Chicken brine recipe, thought I'd try it and adjusted it so much I can't give credit to the author:

Jack Daniel's Poultry Brine

1 gallon water
1 cup Kosher salt
15 tablespoons sugar
2 cups Jack Daniels Whiskey
3 bay leaves
1 TBL garlic
1 TBL pepper
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp sage

Thoroughly mix all ingredients until the salt and sugar dissolve. I used refrigerator cooled distilled water and partially frozen chicken parts (10 thighs, 6 breasts) so the brine and chicken stayed below 40* the whole time. Brine for 5 hrs. Rinse.

I then read an article on a brining blog in which the author suggests air drying the chicken for a few hours:

Brining does have one negative effect on chicken and turkey: Adding moisture to the skin as well as the flesh can prevent the skin from crisping when cooked. We found that air-drying, a technique used in many Chinese recipes for roast duck, solves this problem. Letting brined chicken and turkey dry uncovered in the refrigerator allows surface moisture to evaporate, making the skin visibly more dry and taut and therefore promoting crispness when cooked. Although this step is optional, if crisp skin is a goal, it’s worth the extra time. For best results, air-dry whole brined birds overnight. Brined chicken parts can be air-dried for several hours. Transfer the brined bird to a heavy-duty cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet, pat the bird dry with paper towels, and refrigerate. The rack lifts the bird off the baking sheet, allowing air to circulate freely under the bird.

I'm going to air dry the thighs (breasts are skinless) to see if I notice any perceivable difference. However, I'm planning on grilling the chicken due to time constraints. So I won't know if the air drying helps with the chicken skin when the chicken is smoked. OK. So the question is, "Has anyone tried this?"
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OK. I tried the air dry and also smoked 4 of the chicken thighs so I could report back to the forum.

Here is chicken taken from the brine, sitting on a rack and ready to go into the refrigerator to air dry. Notice the chicken skin is fairly loose. These are the thighs and the chicken breasts are on another rack.

After 3 hrs air drying, I took the chicken out. Here they are before going into the smoker. The skin has definitely tightened up and is not as loose as prior to the air dry.

Before going into the smoker, I sprinkled some Oakridge BBQ Secret Rub on the chicken (my first use of this rub).

Smoker set to 300*, one chunk of Apple wood, smoker preheated. Removed the chicken when the internal hit 163*. It looked absolutely beautiful as you can see in the following picture.

The chicken tasted great. A little heavy on the smoke bad. Moist but maybe the chicken could have spent a couple more hours in the brine. The skin was edible but again not crispy like the bulk of the chicken cooked in the oven. Amongst my better skin effort in the smoker.

So the air drying seems to be a plus and worth the effort.

The Oakridge BBQ rub was definitely excellent. Sweet with a bit of a spice flavor. My wife, daughter and grand daughter all commented on it and liked the new rub. They all ate the chicken from the oven. Crispy skin lovers.
Last edited by pags
Looking good Pags! I'll give your recipe a try the next time around. Two tips for you:

1. Before you air dry, work the skin out over the meat as best you can. A couple of thighs in pic #1 had "crinkly" skin. This will allow better drying.

2. I've taken a crack at Peking Duck at the restaurant a few time though I can't source head on ducks which are somewhat critical to the final result of super crisp skin. One of the initial steps to creating that crisp skin involves pouring scalding hot water over the ducks...presumably to open the pores before air drying them. Maybe a ladle of scalding hot water over the chicken skin might create the same affect?

I'll give that a shot and let you know the results.
I've actually experimented with air drying over the years and didn't find enough benefit to recommend to anyone.

I didn't find that the skin retained enough moisture to matter, as after all it will tend to evaporate first.

It's the fat in the skin that has to render, more than the moisture keeping the skin "wet". My theory is that some that have that theory believe in it because they think it's the water just because it sounds logical.

It's not that they ARE right or ARE wrong. I just haven't been able to prove it and thus haven't added it to brining 101.

maybe I just need to find the food science guy that used to work at Micrsoft and has their $600 series of books on food science and let him investigate.


I just ad mayo (for the oil) and cook at 300 and get crispy skin Wink
I had stated in a few posts above that I couldn't taste the Jack Daniels in the brine. Which probably means save the Jack for quaffing like MaxQue suggests. Which actually means why even add bourbon? Which means why not stay with Smokin's Holiday Brine which produces a better result in my opinion.

I tried the mayo technique and didn't get crispy skin from the Cookshack. But I believe I was still cooking poultry at 250* when I tried it. So I'll try the mayo at 300* next time. My only concern is I'm trying to eat healthier and adding mayo doesn't seem to line up with that goal.

Maybe the two stage cook is still the best way to get crispier skin and enjoy some smoke flavoring. Poultry takes on smoke very well, so smoke it for a short period then finish on the grill. But that defeats one of the purposes of the Cookshack, simplicity. Brings us back to the mayo technique.

Smokin. How do you apply the mayo? Whip it up first? Brush? Hands?

We often smoke skinless breast meat and enjoy it that way or a good salad with smoked chicken. But the wings and legs have got to have crispy skin. Could be a plan. Skinless breast meat. Mayo on the wings and legs.
Last edited by pags

I rub my chicken with mayo, put my bub on and into the AQ set at 300*. Most of the tine it will not stay at 300*, so if we want the skin crispy I put iit on a very hot grilll for a couple of minutes.

Most of the time we don't bother if it is hust me and the wife, we don't eat the skin unless it is on some really good fried chicken! Big Grin
For the mayo (you could substitute an oil only I guess, but the oil is needed to "cook" the skin) I just put some in a bowl and get a good even coat on the chicken by hand (I use rubber gloves around poultry 100% of the time).

If you calculated out how much gets on the skin, I don't know if it's a tb or TB spoon, never measured.

Try it at a higher temp and in the AQ or whatever, remember it's VERY humid and dump some humidity. A humid smoker will absolutely prevent the skin from crisping.

We use the PG500, and have made some of the best wings and legs EVER.

Season to taste with CookShack chicken rub(go easy as it is wonderful but salty which chicken needs.

Smoke at 250 to internal temp of 160. Pull them off the rack and onto the direct side to crisp the skin.

Dunk them in CookShack mild sauce and back onto the rack to hit 180 or so which is what we like legs to be at for serving. 

The advantage of the direct side is an awesome feature.


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