Smoking a Chicken (or 2)

On our farm we raise both chickens for meat, and chickens for eggs. This means we often have to deal with roosters from the egg laying breeds and they are definitely not in the same  class as the meat birds. As a result, I most often simply keep them whole and use them for chicken stew and such.

Today I decided to try smoking a couple with different rubs to see how they turned out – here are the results.

I filled the water pan on the smoker, loaded up apple wood chips and warmed it up to about 200. While it was warming up, I rinsed the birds and coated them liberally with dry rub. I then stuck them in the smoker at 200 for 6 hrs, which was probably a bit too long, but they are so moist and juicy it all worked out great. I think the water pan is what kept this viable and helped avoid dry meat (which no one likes.)

One of the challenges with these birds is that they are generally tough and do not have a great deal of meat. The smoker made a nice difference, cooking them low and slow and breaking the meat down to a much more tender consistency. I will likely brine next time to see how that affects them, and maybe try opening them up but that is for another day. For now, it is dinner time!

Smoker Links

This list will hopefully grow over time with your contributions and our finds!

  1. http://www.smoker-cooking.com
  2. https://www.charbroil.com/community/collections/electric-smoker-collection/
  3. http://masterbuilt.com/recipe/category/smoked

 

Smoker Recipes and Tips

I bought an electric smoker, after using my charcoal and propane grills to indirect smoke for years. My idea with the electric smoker is to be able to gather data in a more controlled way, allowing for consistent reproduction of results and more accurate recipes to share here. I bought my model through Sams Club, and got a pretty good price but here is the same model on Amazon.  Note that the smoker is considerably more buying from Amazon, but I am including the link for reference as to what it is.

I will be putting up a page for links to smoker recipes now, and related information as I experiment more, and once I get a good handle on this model, I think I will likely adapt it for cold smoking as well using an old wine fridge I have.

The first projects are just to understand the machine, but then the work begins in earnest. The challenge I am working on is managing boar taint smell in meat from an intact male pig. We butchered our large intact boar, and there is a strong odor when cooking as a result of hormones in the animal. There is no problem with eating the food, but the smell is off putting and hence I need to figure out a good way to prep and cook it. I will have more details on the successful ideas in a related post.

Smoking Eggs

Today I had the smoker running and decided to make some apple wood smoked eggs. They turned out well and I do love the flavor of the apple wood in the background.

I got the smoker warmed up to around 200, then added the eggs. I had a pan of water in the smoker to keep the shells from drying out too much and set the temp for 225. I let the eggs cook for about 2 hours and then opened up the smoker to cool. I would have pulled the eggs at this point, but I had my grandson in my arm, so I did not want to mess with the smoker!

Worth noting here, there are a lot of ways to smoke eggs, and many people hard boil first, or even peel them. This gives you different outcomes and require a bit more work in some cases. I simply put the eggs in raw, and let the hot smoking cook them.

The finished flavor is like a regular boiled egg, with a smoky note that is not over powering.  These pair well with a little Gentleman Jack if you are so inclined…

Pork Ribs

Ribs are almost a religion in many parts of the United States, and the world for that matter. There are those who swear by the dry rub, those who say the secret is all in the sauce, those who will say there is no other way than smoking on wood and any other permutation you might think if.

I love most ways they can be prepared, but I lean to smoked with a dry rub and finished with a sauce that does not over power the pork flavor. If you do not have a smoker, you can make do with a grill and a smoker box for wood chips. If you do not have that, you can use a grill and put your wood chips in an aluminum foil packet after soaking them, poke some holes in it and toss it in the coals or on your hot side of the grill. The ribs will mostly cook on the indirect heat, or non fueled side of the grill.

Please check out AmazingRibs.com for this part. I have linked to their site for other cuts, but they do such a good job on rib options I think it it THE place to start. Once you get a foundation there, feel free to experiment and search the internet for other options.

There are options for every taste. My main advice here is to not fall into any single camp or accept any one of the rib religions. Play around, enjoy them and take the time to search out hole in the wall rib shacks in your area or on your travels. Learn from them, ask questions and apply your lessons at home.

If you are still reading at this point, and not already at the Amazing Ribs site, go now to the recipe for “Last Meal Ribs: The Best Barbecue Ribs You’ve Ever Tasted!

Cooking a Ham

The Ham comes from the upper hind leg of the pig and comes in many sizes depending on how you request your cut list, or what your local butcher may have. Bone in or carved from the bone will change cooking times and technique to some degree so pay attention to your particular recipe and account for this variation when preparing your own ham.

For smaller families or couples, it is possible to ask your butcher / note on your cut list to cut your large ham into smaller portions to speed cooking and spread over multiple meals. I recommend this approach where possible as it gives you the most flexible use of the meat and allows you to maximize the variety of ways you might prepare this delicious cut. Additionally, if you are ordering a pig from us, this will be a part of the cut list selection and you will need to determine if you will want your ham smoked or not, based on preference and taste. I am a fan of the smoked flavor and I go for that option for my family.

The authoritative primer on all things Ham

As you will find, I frequently link to or point to the site AmazingRibs.com for their recipes and ideas. I am not repeating that content here – they do such a good job I think it is best to simply go there and learn as I have. Please start with that to understand options and then build on it from there.

Smoked, Honey-Glazed Ham

At honest-food.net, there is a good recipe for smoked, honey glazed ham.  I am including this one as it is a nice foundation recipe that you can use to build from and tweak to your liking. The author bases his off a wild hog, but points out that you might use a variety of hind leg cuts with the same success. The article covers the curing as well as cooking and is a good reference to understand the process, even if you pick a different finishing technique. If you visit this link, please take the time to read the comment thread at the bottom of the article as I think that is as valuable a resource as the article itself.

Baked Ham with Rum and Coke Glaze

This is a no-brainer, it has rum in the recipe! Seriously though, this one is worth reading through and giving a whirl. It is not complex, but it is a bit labor intensive in terms of staying on the process with the glaze. I suggest sticking with the suggestion for the dark brown sugar and a dark rum for flavor when you make this one and use the real deal coca-cola, this is another place to not compromise.

Ham Slices / Ham Steaks

While not a link or recipe, I suggest adding some ham steaks to your cut list. I am a big fan of these for a hearty morning breakfast coupled with farm fresh eggs and potatoes. They are super easy to cook – pan fry in a cast iron skillet or even grill.  They will taste sort of like a cross between ham and bacon  and have a great texture to fill you up and get your day going.