Whole Chicken           

Chicken Legs and Thighs  

What I've learned about chicken.

Chicken is my signature dish. If people eat everything I cook and love it all, ask them about it a year later and it's the chicken they remember. I learned everything I need to know about chicken from a black man from Houston. (That needs context. In Houston and San Antonio, if your on the wrong side of town with your doors locked and you see some hole in the wall BBQ shack with corrugated steel or cinder block walls, your about to have some AWESOME Q)

My ex-wife and I were over the road truck drivers (I taught her how to drive a semi and we were a team). We had a little grill that we used with pure mesquite wood. I was new to "smoking". I had years of scouting and bicycle touring, so I knew how to cook outdoors but I was a newbie to smoking. We were at a hotel with a fellow trucker from our company somewhere out west. we were all stuck for the weekend. I pulled out my mini smoker and wanted to fry up some hamburger or steak. the other driver wanted chicken. I told him I didn't know how to cook chicken. I was putting BBQ sauce on the chicken and burning it. I gave up trying. He taught me all anyone needs to know about chicken.

all you need is mesquite wood, Lowry's seasoned salt, BBQ sauce and beer. Season the chicken with the Lowry's seasoned salt, cook it over pure mesquite or 50/50 mesquite chunks/charcoal at about 300F and baste with beer or a seasoned salt/water mixture. If you accidentally wash off the seasoned salt with the beer NEVER re-season the chicken. you will ALWAYS over season it. about 8 minutes before you take it off the grill, cover it with the thinnest layer of BBQ sauce you can put on it. dribble the sauce on and use a paint brush like your trying to wipe it back off. doing this, it's not possible to use too much mesquite. I have a Smokey Joe that I only burn 100% mesquite chunks in.

if you want a prop for cooking with witnesses, have beer bottles, put your thumb over the top and shake it a little and squirt the chicken with the foam spraying out the top. I just use a mustard/ketchup squirt bottle.

Now using a twist of that method in a water smoker makes the BEST whole chickens. A water smoker has a boiling water pan over the coals that continuously steams the birds making a super juicy bird. the breast squirts when you cut into it. you want to give it some high heat in the end though or the skin is rubbery.

Beer butt or drunk chicken is a cool prop and looks neat when you serve it up, but it doesn't really work. There was a BBQ site that did a test of beer butt chicken. the beer doesn't get hot enough to evaporate and never leaves the can. Also the fat of the bird drips a top layer in the can to seal in the beer. BUT, if you put beer in the water of a water smoker, you then have true beer but chicken.