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Whole birds are one of the best ways to meal prep. Get three or four of these things cooked up on a Sunday and you have amazing meals for the rest of the week. One of my most favorite ways to prepare birds is through a brine and smoked. The flavor of smoked chicken is incredible and the meat stays ridiculously tender and juicy.
As you can see in the photos, the technique used is a reverse spatchcock. Why do this? Great question – it helps the smoked chicken cook quicker as well as more evenly. If you have a sharp set of kitchen shears, this will be a snap. This is like the traditional spatchcock, but instead of cutting the entire spine of the bird out, just run a cut down the breastbone then pop the bird open. If the bird is not laying flat, then crack some of the ribs so it is.
Why reverse instead of traditional spatchcock? I’ve found that this way is easier, quicker and also lends to the way I like it cooked. The wings don’t get overly cooked and the breasts cook a lot quicker with this method because they are further apart.
After the bird is spatchcocked, toss in the brine overnight. The brine will help keep the smoked chicken very moist and tender throughout the cooking process. If you’re new to brining, prepare to fall in love.
Admittedly, everyone doesn’t have a smoker. That’s okay! I will be giving you an option to make these birds in the oven as well. The blood oranges will skyrocket the flavor of these smoked chickens. Good luck having left overs!
- 1 whole chicken
- 3/4 cup raw honey
- 1/2 cup sea salt
- 4 blood oranges, quartered
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 10 cups water
- 1 blood orange
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 3 tablespoons cayenne powder
- sea salt and cracked black pepper
- Spatchcock or reverse spatchcock chicken as described above, set aside
- Combine all of the ingredients of the brine and squeeze the oranges into the water. Include the rinds of the oranges for flavor. Bring to a rolling boil and make sure all ingredients are fully combined.
- Remove from heat and cool.
- Fully submerge spatchcocked chicken into brine and make sure it is covered.
- Place in fridge for four hours to overnight. Overnight is usually the easiest way.
- minutes before cooking, remove the chicken, rinse and pat dry.
- Squeeze a blood orange and rub all over the chicken, especially the skin.
- Coat with the paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper.
SMOKE (or COOK)
- Set the smoker at 245 degrees F and place the chicken skin side down for 1.5 hours. Flip the bird and cook for another approximately 1.5 hours.
- Insert thermometer into thickest part of the breast and make sure it is at least 165 degrees F
by Anthony Gustin