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I know this topic has been debated periodically in these forums but I wanted to get some other opinions from you all. When I searched for previous postings discussing bark I ran across some older postings with forum members at the time split about 50/50 on the topic of removing bark or not.

I just finished smoking two chicken breasts using some apple wood chunks (purchased from CS). I used a little over 2oz. of wood total and two of the pieces had bark on them. My chicken came out black and bitter. It may be the worst thing I have ever tasted.

This is only the second time I have used wood with bark on it. The first time was when I seasoned the smoker. I used a cheap, fatty piece of meat, as suggested in the owner's manual, and it too came out black and did not smell very good at all. I chalked it up to the seasoning process and the cheapness of the meat but now since I had the same kind of result again using wood with bark I now suspect it might be the problem.

Just as a side note, for the seasoning process I used some of the wood that came with my smokette so it was a different kind completely.

Everything else I have cooked in the smokette, which has included brisket and babyback ribs, has come out superb and I couldn't be happier. For each of those I just happen to select all wood chunks with no bark

I plan to try smoking chicken breast again using the same seasoning, time and amount of wood sans the bark this time. I'll post back with the results in case anyone is interested.

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Guys, you are going to get the same variety of answers as everyone else has. It's a personal choice.

The one and only reason I might remove bark from my wood is if it has moss or scaly mold. Other than that it stays on. Should the bark be falling off while I a selecting my wood I will go ahead and remove it.

The only time I have had a bitter smoke is when I used too much wood as a rookie or used a tad too much Mesquite.

Just my $0.02 worth!
I'm in harmony with a reminder that a "little over 2 ounces of wood," with or without bark, is going to overwhelm chicken...and partridge, and quail, and game hen, and pretty much almost even turkey. The poultry absorbs the smoke sooooo easily, and though you didn't say how long you cooked it, it may have been in there too long, too.

I'm a bark-remover in general, though I'll tell you I haven't had trouble with apple bark being left on. My analogy is burning wood in a fireplace/firepit. The wood with a heavy layer of bark sits and smolders, never really gives off a good smoke, and smells a bit funny compared to good dry heartwood. So, why would we think it to be much different in a cooking situation? (though LOTS of Forum people smoke with barked wood and see no differenct...I just do)
Thanks for the feedback Wheelz. I am sorry if I am beating a dead horse with this issue. I just wanted to try and get some other opinions because I have a lot of wood with bark on it from CS. Like Swede, I think it seems odd that CS would ship it with bark if it was a known issue.

Let me shift the question a little. I have been reading some about different types of meat and the amount of smoke they can really take without being bitter. For example, I read an article from a guy about making brisket who swears that briskets should only be exposed to smoke for about 2 hours during cooking but that pork can take smoke all day long.

My question is has anyone found that chicken can only take a very small amount of smoke?

One other question, does anyone know any other reason why my chicken would have come out black? Wouldn't that be from soot or something like that?
Looks like Thousand Oakie answered my question about over-smoking poultry (sorry I was writing my post while you were posting :-)). I will back off the smoke down to a small piece of wood and probably strip the bark just to be safe ;-)

Also, just an FYI, I smoked it at 220 degrees for 2.5 hours. I followed a recipe in the CS cookbook for smoked chicken salad.
Do not use the CS cookbook for times or temps. Always do your poultry at 250*, or hotter if you can, and use very little wood, especially after your smoker becomes seasoned well. As long as the bark on the wood chunks is clean, it won't make a bit of difference vs chunks with no bark. A 1 oz piece of wood chunk is all you will ever need for 1 chicken. 2 oz for a whole turkey. I would not use mesquite on poultry. You sound like a guy who is not fond of heavy smoke. I am slightly similar, depending on the meat. I like my venison roasts, pork butts, and jerky smoked well.

Keep practicing, taking good notes, experimenting, and having fun!

One other question, does anyone know any other reason why my chicken would have come out black? Wouldn't that be from soot or something like that?

Was there any sugar in your rub/seasoning? Apple wood seems to darken chicken skin pretty quick, and sugar in the rub can burn pretty easily.
Sugar doesn't normally burn at 250 in a smoker. Seen some experiments from folks and it was usually over 300.

To turn black, you'd know if there was enough sugar.

Hinkles will color the chicken dark.

Over smoked usually means you can rub your finger over it and wipe off excess smoke. If you want to test, smoke it without any smoke and see if it's the rub/marinade.

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