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Friday, July 16, 2010

Water Smoker Chicken Leg Quarters

Relax. This is even easier than Water Smoker Brisket.

Chicken leg quarters are cool. I know; a lot of people are all into white meat, and I get that. A lot of people like chicken breasts partly because they absorb other flavors so readily. I get that. I've done that, too, and will probably do it again. However, as time has gone on, I have come to recognize that in addition to being about the cheapest cut of chicken you can buy, leg quarters are probably the most flavorful cut of chicken you can buy, with the exception, I guess, of livers. I make a mean batch of chicken livers, too. Maybe I'll tell you about it someday.

At any rate, the other day I bought a ten-pound bag of leg quarters (for less than six bucks!). To fix 'em, I first brined them for about an hour. If you've never brined anything before, it's simple. In this case, I first put all the meat into a big pot. Then I dissolved a bunch of kosher salt--that was my unit of measure: "a bunch"--in another pan, poured it over the chicken, and repeated until all the chicken was submerged. You could also do this and leave it in the fridge for a few hours, but I knew I was going to be cooking soon and just left them out on the counter. Whilst the chicken was soaking, I fired up the coals and soaked hickory chunks for the water smoker. When the coals were ready, I dumped them into the firepan, filled the water pan, and put half the chicken on the bottom grill and half the chicken on the top grill. Ten pounds of leg quarters fits quite nicely that way. Then I shook some more kosher salt over the chicken. You could, of course, add other seasonings. If I thought I could get away with it, I would certainly have added about a cup of Tabasco to the brine and fresh-cracked black pepper to the salt that I shook over the chicken.

I kept it smoking for about four hours at a fairly consistent 200 degrees, and then I pulled it out of the grill. Served it with a variant of Big Bob Gibson's White Sauce, which I will be publishing shortly, and a bottle of honey barbecue sauce for the family members whom I suspected might not care for the white sauce. The meat was very tender with excellent smoke flavor. The skin was a bit chewy, but not that big a deal.

Leftovers--unless your family is enormous, you will very likely have leftovers--can be used to make marvelous sandwiches. Just pull the meat off the bones and chop it.

This has to be one of the cheapest ways to experience authentic barbecue.

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