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Chicken is a meat that will absorb flavor and smoke easily. Unfortunately it is also easy to overcook and dry out.

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Chicken is a meat that will absorb flavor and smoke easily. Unfortunately it is also easy to overcook and dry out. The dark meat (legs, thighs) contain more fat which bastes the meat while cooking, adding moisture.

Always buy fresh chicken, the USDA states "The term 'fresh' may only be placed on raw poultry that has never been below 26°. Poultry held at 0°F or below must be labeled 'frozen' or 'previously frozen.' No specific labeling is required on poultry between 0 and 26°F."


Chickens benefit greatly from brining overnight in a salt solution; this causes the bird to draw in moisture as well as any spices you added to the brine. As long as you have the two main ingredients, salt and sugar in equal proportions and no more than ¼ cup per quart, you may add any spices you like.

Basic brine

3/4 cup coarse kosher salt

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup boiling water

1 gallon cold water

1 tablespoon pepper


Always rinse the chicken well before cooking.

Other ways to enhance the moisture in your chicken is to marinate it overnight. An excellent marinade is Italian salad dressing, which is what we use in competitions. Before putting it on the grill add more spices to the skin.

Chicken is done when the dark meat reaches 180. The white meat is usually ready at 170 and boneless breast at 160. This ensures the meat is not overcooked, which will dry it out. Basting during the cook will help it retain moisture.


Always place the chicken on the grill skin side up at first. This will help keep the skin from sticking to the grill when you later turn it over. Make sure the skin is crisp before taking it off, a few minutes at the end skin side down will prevent it from being rubbery.

Injecting marinade into a chicken is a great way to add flavors. Insert the needle under the skin into the meat without piercing the skin. More juices will be retained.

Use poultry shears instead of a knife when trimming chicken, it is much easier, especially when cutting the backbone out of a whole bird.

Spatchcocking a chicken means to butterfly a whole bird, remove the backbone and snapping the breast bone so it lays flat. This is a great way to cook a whole bird.


Beer Can (drunk) Chicken

Fill an empty can with green pepper and pineapple juice. Set a whole chicken down over it so that it supports the bird. The flavor in the can will steam and add moisture to the inside of the bird.

BBQ Chicken

Brine the chicken overnight in

1 gal water

1 cup salt

1 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp peppercorns

1Tbsp whole cloves

Rinse after removing, put on a grill cooking it directly over the heat skin side up. When you are ready to turn it for the first time, baste with bbq sauce, then baste again every time you turn them.


Raspberry Vinaigrette Chicken

1 whole cut up chicken

1 bottle raspberry walnut vinaigrette salad dressing

Marinate the chicken overnight, cook direct on the grill.

Championship Smoked Chicken

1 bottle Paul Newman's Italian salad dressing

BBQ rub

BBQ sauce

Brine the chicken in Paul Newman's Italian salad dressing overnight. Shake off the excess and dust on some rub. Then place onto the grill skin side up indirect at 235 degrees. Cook for two hours then baste and turn over. 30 minutes later flip them skin side back up and baste again. Cook to 180 degrees internal.


Apricot Chicken

4 oz sugar free apricot preserves

8 oz BBQ sauce

2 Tbsp garlic powder

2 Tbsp Onion powder

1 whole chicken, cut up

Dust the chicken with the garlic and onion powder. Cook on the grill direct until it is about half way done. Mix the preserves and the bbq sauce together and baste the chicken with it every 15 minutes until the chicken is done.


Crispy Chicken Wings

3 lb chicken wings

BBQ rub

3 Tbsp corn starch

Coat the wings in BBQ rub, and then sprinkle the corn starch over them. Cook the wings direct on a raised grid for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or indirect at 250 for 2.5 hours.

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