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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 07-02-2012, 06:04 PM   #1
This is not your pork!
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Unhappy 6th Cook on new WSM 22.5": Superfast Chicken Legs on Birch GONE WRONG (w/ pr0n)

Featured products:
  • 7 pieces of Chicken Legs (Quarters)
  • Self made Rub
  • Self made Sauce
Setup:
  • WSM 22.5"
  • Weber Long Lasting Charcoal Briquettes
  • About a half charcoal ring filling for Minion Method without depression and 20 lit briquettes spread evenly on top
  • White Birch Wood Chunks
  • 90+30 minutes cooking scheme at 325°F with saucing after 90 minutes + 30 minutes skin crisping with all vents closed as suggested by Bludawg in this thread
  • Actual cooking temp zone 356-360°F due to very windy weather conditions
  • Maverick ET-732
  • Foiled 18" Clay Saucer in foiled Water Pan without Water

Chicken Legs (Quarters) unpacked



Overview



About half a charcoal ring prepped for Minion Method with white birch wood



20 lit briquettes evenly spread on top



My compact outdoor kitchen - btw the nice table, which we had stored in the basement, now has found a new designation, and makes a perfect fit to my WSM



Rubbed chicken legs in casserole



Open casserole put on the upper cooking grate with both Maverick probes attached



Quite a difference between the Maverick probe on the upper grate and the dome thermometer



Chicken legs after 90 minutes @ 356-360°F (values from Maverick probe on grate) with an IT of 179°F, supposedly ready for some saucing



Finished chicken legs after 2 hours



Chicken leg on plate



Drumstick closeup



Thigh closeup



Charcoal ring showing fuel consumption



At least the chocolate pie I made for dessert was really good



Result:

The chicken legs were really tender to a degree I never have tasted before (others may say they were overcooked). I'd say too moist and juicy, and the skin was not crisp at all and just inedible. There was not really any smoke flavor although I had used five about fist-sized white birch junks. And to top the disappointment the used selfmade sauce originally made for Danish Back Ribs did not really fit.

We ate 5 of the 7 chicken legs at noon without the skin, and the remaining two were used for pulled chicken wraps in the evening. Although it has not gone completely wrong, my wife was very disappointed and can not see any more smoked poultry in the future.

Remarks:
  • I guess I should not have put the chicken legs on with the casserole, but directly onto the cooking grate, which could be the reason for the skin not getting crisp. Other reasons could be the fact, that they have been rubbed two days ago waiting for being cooked in a closed casserole in the fridge, as well as the fat below the skin not been trimmed. Any hint?
  • The recommended IT for chicken to be done is 165°F. Does getting to 179°F automatically mean it's overcooked, or is it about a combination of IT and cooking time?
  • Although the recommended temp for this cook has been 325°F, it went up and stayed between 356 and 360°F for most of the first 90 minutes due to very windy weather conditions, which made temp control really hard. How can it be, that although this cook was hotter than recommended but for the same period of time, the skin did not get any crispy? The temp in the open casserole should have been high enough, otherwise the IT would not have been reached before the first 90 minutes were over.
  • I still don't know why the recommended way was to close all vents for the last 30 minutes, because all what that does is to put out the fire with a declining cooking temperature. Any hint?
  • Although brining was suggested, it was already to late for that. Any explanation, what brining would have added to the result? These chicken legs were already way too moist and juicy.
Any comments / thoughts are highly appreciated. Thanks for taking a look.
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Unread 07-02-2012, 06:11 PM   #2
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Yeah, being all bunched up together in the casserole, they wouldn't have gotten much smoke. Next time try em directly on the grates, with enough space between for the smoke/air to move between em. Also, I don't think I'd have rubbed em so much in advance.

Next time: BRINE! When you DO brine....make sure you allow enough time to dry out the skin afterward. Dry the chicken with paper towels and then put them on a drying rack inside a dish and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to dehydrate and tighten up the skin.



Whatever you do......don't give up on the idea. Learning is part of the fun and the real challenge! You will NOT be sorry!
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Unread 07-02-2012, 06:26 PM   #3
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The much in advance rub was not intended, they were prepared on Saturday evening, and should have gone on Sunday morning, but since their cooking scheme didn't fit with my ribs, which were needed Sunday noon, and weather not playing along yesterday afternoon, I had to delay them till today.

I don't even really know why I sticked to the idea with the casserole after the plan with ribs + chicken legs was abandoned, which I thought was a good idea when putting the ribs on the lower grate and the casseroled chicken legs on the upper grate to not getting chicken juice onto the ribs.

Brining is already noted, and I will look into that (since I have never brined before).

I don't want to give up the idea of poultry in my WSM, I only need to convince the wife that it still is a good idea and usually should work out just fine.
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Unread 07-02-2012, 06:26 PM   #4
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Get rid of the pan and Try it again. The reason for closing the vents and letting ride down is to keep it juicy cooking the bird in a pan does not allow for even heat distribution between the pieces. you need a minimum of 1/4" around each piece to allow for proper heat and smoke to get to the meat and crisp the skin. Make only small changes at a time to your cooks if you change up to many things you will never find a method that works. The method I gave you is proven it works every time if you do it exactly as I described it.
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Unread 07-02-2012, 06:27 PM   #5
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Don't give up, chicken over a charcoal fire is delicious. It takes some time to figure out each meat/wood/rub/sauce combination works for you.

I think the pan (casserole) was not a great idea, you can make great chicken in a pan of course, but, it will be best on the rack. This allows for more smoke and not sitting in the juices.

I like to brine chickens, but, I will often cook them longer if I have brined, the skin renders better and the slightly over-done meat will still have a great texture. Wampus is right, though, if you brine, let the chicken air cure for a bit.

I cook chickens closer to 400F and I don't understand why you would shut down the vents for chicken. Let it run until it's done. Not like ribs, chicken is not like ribs, important to know that.
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Unread 07-02-2012, 06:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bludawg View Post
Get rid of the pan and Try it again. The reason for closing the vents and letting ride down is to keep it juicy cooking the bird in a pan does not allow for even heat distribution between the pieces. you need a minimum of 1/4" around each piece to allow for proper heat and smoke to get to the meat and crisp the skin. Make only small changes at a time to your cooks if you change up to many things you will never find a method that works. The method I gave you is proven it works every time if you do it exactly as I described it.
Thanks again for all the clues, I had no idea that putting them in an open casserole can make such a difference.

Following your described method, does it hurt if the temperature exceeds 325°F?

Should I react on IT of 165°F in the first 90 minutes, or does IT not influence cooking time when done your way?

I am tempted to try again immediately, but according to the weather forecast the weather will not play along, and I already ordered two pork butts and more ribs to be picked up on Wednesday for my next cook.
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Unread 07-02-2012, 06:35 PM   #7
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Mighty Fine is all I can offer! ;D
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Unread 07-02-2012, 06:39 PM   #8
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Don't get me wrong, the pulled chicken wraps were delicious (and the pie even more) but the desired result as chicken legs with crisp skin was reached.

As seen, some make poultry just for pulling, but if I wanted pulled chicken, I would not only use chicken legs, would I?
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Unread 07-02-2012, 06:55 PM   #9
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A cooking temperature of around 350 is good. Like others have said, I'd cook right on the grate, and let the chicken fat drip away. My chickens never take two hours to cook, but then again, I almost always cook whole chickens with my rotisserie on the kettle.

When I do chicken parts, I aim for the same roughly 350 temperatures. They get done in an hour to 90 minutes, tops.

Do keep in mind that 350 at the lid thermometer is probably around 330-335 at the top cooking grate, and 315-325 at the lower cooking grate. Those are still okay, but you need to keep that in mind.

IMO, skin-on chicken wants to be grilled, not smoked, for good skin. If you have a separate grill, skin-on chicken parts would be a good candidate for the very popular reverse sear.

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Unread 07-02-2012, 07:03 PM   #10
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The hotter the better when it comes to chicken skin. Some folks will bring their chicken up to "done" temp, then toss them onto a hot fire skin side down to crisp up the skin.

Can't help you with sauce as I never sauce my chicken. It has tons of flavor from the rub, skin, and meat. Honestly, your chicken will probably turn out better on that cow dung grill you have. Try to setup an indirect cook and go to town.
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Unread 07-02-2012, 10:00 PM   #11
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I looks good, keep trying.
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Unread 07-02-2012, 10:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by This is not your pork! View Post
Thanks again for all the clues, I had no idea that putting them in an open casserole can make such a difference.

Following your described method, does it hurt if the temperature exceeds 325°F?

Should I react on IT of 165°F in the first 90 minutes, or does IT not influence cooking time when done your way?

I am tempted to try again immediately, but according to the weather forecast the weather will not play along, and I already ordered two pork butts and more ribs to be picked up on Wednesday for my next cook.
Following your described method, does it hurt if the temperature exceeds 325°F?
No you can go hotter if you want to 325 works for me.
Should I react on IT of 165°F in the first 90 minutes, or does IT not influence cooking time when done your way?
At 325 my chicken is done in 90 min I don't take temps on chicken. I probe it when the juice runs clear it's done.
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