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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Smoked chickens and turkeys are a Holiday tradition at our house.

Stuffed in elastic netting:


Ready to go in brine for the 2011 Holidays. Used agave syrup instead of brown sugar this time. I like the brown sugar better:


Thanksgiving 2011:


Nice color, smoked with 100% cherry, not the cherry mixed with alder stuff:


Cured and smoked chicken, moist and smokey:


2012, nice color:


Don't waste that brine. Use the wasted space between the whole chickens in the brine bucket by putting a package of legs in with the whole chickens:


Cut them in half for vacuum packaging:


Use a serrated knife:
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
duneman101 said:
i think i missed the brine recipe, i can't seem to find it....

those look awesome goob, good enough for me to not put the smoker away until i try it.
This is how I done them:

4 whole chickens

Brine ingredients:
6 quarts - water
1 1/2 to 2 cups - Morton's Tender Quick
1 1/2 to 2 cups - brown sugar
1 tsp - ground white pepper
1/4 cup - Worchestershire sauce

Brine:
Mix all ingredients in a clean 5-gallon plastic pail.
The brine should float an egg, if not, stir in more Tender Quick, a little at a time, until the egg floats readily.
Pump brine into legs, thighs, wings and breast.
Soak chickens in the brine solution at 40°. Check brine and rotate chickens after 2 days. Soak chickens 4 days total.
Remove from brine and rinse in cold water.
While warming up the smoker, drain chickens at room temp for 1 hr, and then pat dry.

Smoke:
Hang in smoker, legs up
120° - 1 1/2 - 2 hrs, no smoke, vent 100% open
140° - 5 hrs, cherry or apple smoke, vent 50% open
170° - vent 25% open, until temp in meat around knee joint is 152°

If you like the netting:
Many of the supermarkets are using the elastic netting for their deli meats. I bet if you asked them they would sell you 4 or 5 feet. Takes about 14" of netting for a whole chicken.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Cooky said:
What does the Tender Quick gain you over just good salt?
Great question. Tender Quick is 70% salt and 29% sugar with some added chemicals.

Morton Salt Company says "Tenderquick mix contains salt, the main preserving agent; sugar, both sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, curing agents that also contribute to development of color and flavor; and propylene glycol to keep the mixture uniform."

Advantages over salt:
Faster meat cell penetration, faster curing times.
Less salt per relative amount of cure.
Better microbial inhibition.
Adds color to cured meat and sausages.

Disadvantages:
Not for dry-cured meats or sausages.
Contains sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, possible cancer-causing agents.
Expensive.

You could substitute pink salt (Insta Cure #1 or Prague Powder #1) plus salt and sugar for TQ, many people do. To each his own. This is the way I've cured chickens, and turkeys, for over 40 years.
 

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Any idea how they measure the ingredients? It appears salt and sugar both vary a lot in weight per given volume. If I want to match my prefered 50/50 salt to sugar (by volume) ratio it would be easier if it were by volume but I'll bet it's weight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Cooky said:
Any idea how they measure the ingredients? It appears salt and sugar both vary a lot in weight per given volume. If I want to match my prefered 50/50 salt to sugar (by volume) ratio it would be easier if it were by volume but I'll bet it's weight.
The ingredients of TenderQuick are measured by weight of course. I use volume here. This is a forum for blue-collar hunters and fisherman not internet BBQ cooks, that haggle, beer in one hand, cigarette in the other, over how safe a 50-year old recipe is.

Morton Tenderquick is basically 70% salt, 29% sugar, 0.5% sodium nitrite and 0.5% sodium nitrate.

There is no real substitute for Morton's TenderQuick. It has sodium nitrate. Sodium nitrate is bad so sausagemakers are using curing alternatives like pink salt. Pink salt (Insta Cure #1, Prague Powder #1) is the other meat curing agent. It is basically 93.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite; no sodium nitrate.

Here's a TenderQuick substitute, by weight:
17.5 oz canning/pickling salt
5.5 oz granulated sugar
2 oz pink salt

Use 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of mix per pound of whole cuts. It's essential to use pickling salt so that the salt, sugar and cure particle size are all nearly the same. The above mix provides 156ppm and 2.4% salt compared to 3% salt for TenderQuick.

I don't use TQ for everything. I use just salt/sugar for fish, plain bacon, and smoking uncured poultry for example. But for pastrami, Canadian Bacon, cured smoked poultry, hams and many cured sausage recipes I like the ease of use, color, and anti-botulism properties TQ provides.

I have plenty of sausage recipes that use only salt/sugar, maybe a little added wine. Recipes that are the same as they were probably 3,000 years ago. I love them; everyone else hates them. They don't have the color, flavor, moisture, or consistancy of store-bought semi-cured sausage or that special sausage that came from the locker plant where you had your deer processed.
 

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Your last paragraph sums up why TQ with smoked chicken piqued my interest. I use the recipe that came in the box with my Lure Jensen smoker umpteen years ago. ½ Cup salt, ½ Cup sugar and a quart of water. I did go talk the butcher out of some netting today and found some left over pink salt from a jerky kit. I’m going to smoke chickens while my wife attends a New Years Eve party. I may even sneak a Swisher Sweet and smoke with the chickens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Chicken legs for 88¢!! Time to cure and smoke a bucket full.

Brine:
Put 1 gallon of water in a bucket and add enough Morton's Tenderquick to make an egg float; around 1 cup.
Add:
1 cup - brown sugar
3 tbsp - Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp - white pepper

Soak chicken legs in the brine for 4 to 6 days. Brining at 40° is about right.
Drain and rinse in cool water. Pat dry.

Cold Smoke:
Place chicken legs on racks in preheated smoker:
120° - 1 hr, no smoke, vent 100% open
140°-160° - 5 hrs, smoke with 1 pan of cherry or apple sawdust, vent 50% open
170°-180° - no smoke, vent 25% open, until temp in meat around knee joint is 152° to 162°. (I prefer 152°)



.
 

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Chicken legs for 88¢!! Time to cure and smoke a bucket full.

Put 1 gallon of water in a bucket and add enough Morton's Tenderquick to make an egg float; a little over 1 cup.
Add:
1 cup - brown sugar
3 tbsp - Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp - white pepper

Soak chicken legs in the brine for 4 to 6 days. Brining at 40° is about right.
Drain and rinse in cool water. Let dry.
Place chicken legs on racks in preheated 170° smoker for 1 hour, with vent 100% open.
Smoke at 180° with cherry sawdust until internal temp is 160°.
Quit it,I ust got ack rom th dentit.:brushteeth:
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Cherry Smoke. About 5 hours on 170 and then 1/2 hour at 245 to finish them. They didn't have a lot of color after the 5 hours so I turned up the temp. They didn't look quite like yours. Do remember your total cook time?
Mine were in the smoker for 8 or 9 hrs. I did an extra 1/2 pan of sawdust which adds some color. Drying the meat, 120° for an hour before adding smoke, improves color, moisture retention and smoke flavor.

No water was added to the cherry sawdust.

I think I finished these around 180°. They didn't get very hot; there's no grease in the bottom of the smoker.

.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
69¢ a pound for chicken legs.

I did a bucket full!!




I fell asleep while these chicken legs were in the smoker. When I shut them off the internal temp was 165°. Still OK:
 
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