where there’s smoke, there’s…

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Chicken!! Or Pork!!! (You thought I was going to say “Fire”, didn’t you? While it’s true that we HAVE played with fire, this time we chose to play with smoke.) And when I say “we”, of course I mean “he”… look who did another writeup. Zowie!! -ejm

summary: recipes for indirect smoking on a gas bbq: chicken and pork butt; includes a thrilling video;

he’s the best smoker ever!!! -neighbour
No load or slow load? Please go directly to YouTube: smoking on a gas barbecue (click here to see photos of what’s being smoked and a larger view of smoking video)

Nothing Succeeds Like The Taste (And Smell) Of Smoke

In 1994 I went in search of smoke. It hadn’t started out that way, but that’s how it ended up. Originally I’d just planned to motorcycle along the Ohio river to Cario where it meets the mighty Mississippi but the route proved very industrial and not much fun. Instead I turned south into Kentucky. I spent a few days in Lexington where, for the first time, I tasted real pit BBQ. I’d never had anything so good and I was hooked. When I came back to Toronto I bought a bunch of specialized smoking gear. But as I found out much later good pit style BBQ can be reproduced much more easily.

butterflied chicken Now many years later we love to smoke just about any kind of meat on our 20 year old BBQ. Meat with lots of fat; chicken, pork butts, pork side ribs, salmon, sausages, quail and beef ribs and brisket work best.

We’ve even smoked vegetables on occasion. Corn on the cob, for example, works really well and adds a wonderful smokey complexity to soups and stews. While smoking time and technique has to be adjusted slightly for each, we always follow the basic smoking method outlined in the two recipes below.

butterflied chicken

Indirect Smoking on the Barbecue
equipment and smoking method . smoked chicken . smoked pork

What’s Needed For Smoking

  • BBQ capable of cooking using the Indirect Smoking Method (see below)
  • Metal pan to hold wood chips
  • Two handfuls of wood chips to start
  • Two more handfuls of wood chips – to be added later in the process
  • Optional: Pan under the meat to catch the fat and juices so they don’t run off into the BBQ.

indirect Smoking On A Gas BBQ

  1. Light the BBQ on one side only. Place a metal pan directly onto the burner of the lighted side. Place two handfuls of dry wood chips onto the pan. (Some recommend soaking the wood chips – I think it’s a waste of time.)
  2. Wait until the wood chips start to smoke (about 5 minutes). Place meat on the unlit (cold) side of the BBQ and close the lid.
  3. IMMEDIATELY TURN THE HEAT DOWN TO LOW. A good smoking temperature is somewhere around 225 degrees fahrenheit.

Smoked Chicken

  • 3 lb chicken
  • Dry spice rub ¹
  1. Butterfly and season the chicken
    1. Using a good pair of kitchen shears (we use tin snips) cut the chicken along the length of the backbone.
    2. Use your favorite dry rub and liberally season the chicken on both sides. For this recipe we’ve used our version of “Old Bay Seasoning
  2. Prepare the BBQ for indirect smoking (directions above)
  3. Smoking the chicken
    1. A 3 lb chicken takes about 2 hours to smoke.
    2. Place chicken, skin side up, on the cold side of the BBQ. Smoke about 1 hour. Replenished the wood chips at least once about half way through the smoking process (or more often if a very smoky flavour is desired).
    3. Chicken is done when it looks done (my method) OR when the internal temp reaches 165/170 Fahrenheit and the juices run clear.²

Smoked Pork Butt

  • 2 lb pork butt
  • Dry spice rub ¹
  1. Prepare the BBQ for indirect smoking (directions above)
  2. Smoking the Butt
    1. Place meat fat side up on the cold side of the BBQ and smoke approximately 1 – 1.5 hours for every pound of meat. Replenish the wood chips at least once about half way through the smoking process (or more often if a very smoky flavour is desired).
    2. When done, I like the internal temperature to read 180 Fahrenheit (but some say as high as 200F for really falling apart pulled pork). Experiment a little to find out what you like best.
    3. After 2 hours of smoking, this particular pork butt had an internal temperature of 170 Fahrenheit.
  3. From here you can just continue to smoke normally OR….
    1. Optional Technique: for the last hour or so of cooking place the meat in a flame proof pyrex casserole dish or wrap it up in foil³. Allow the meat to continue to cook (kind of steam actually) until internal temperature reaches the desired level.
    2. Reserve any of the juices that accumulate in the bottom of the casserole/foil during this last part of the smoking process. They are full of fatty flavour and should be poured over the meat after it’s cut up on the plate4.
ejm’s Notes:

1 We choose from a variety of spice rubs that we make. On these occasions, we used “Old Bay” for the chicken and “Spice Rub #1” (we call it “Western Rub”) for the pork. Here are the recipes we use so we have lots of dry rub ready: 3 dry spice rubs (including “Old Bay”) and Ras el Hanout

2 Do use your meat thermometer!

3 Remember that a covered casserole can be used over and over. A sheet of foil can be used only once before being sent to ever increasing mounds of waste that won’t break down and cannot be recycled.

4 Smoke a larger piece than is necessary for one dinner. Left-over meat is fantastic in meat pie, sandwiches, to replace the sausage in Katie’s salad and/or chili.

smoked chickensmoked pork butt


(please click on images to see larger views and more photos)

This all came about because my sister phoned last weekend for detailed instructions on how to smoke pork. We directed her to the website, only to realize that we had never actually blogged about this. Even though T says it’s not true, I thought that the slow smoking of the pork was inspired by “How to Cook Slow-Smoked Brisket” in SAVEUR Magazine, The Texas Issue #121, June/July 2009. But maybe it was after reading that article that made me suggest we have something smoked. Naturally, T jumped at the chance. He LOVES slow-smoked meat and since his motorcycle trip to Kentucky, he was always suggesting that we have smoked meat. And I was often nixing it.
Is it a “guy” thing? I used to think so. But after not being able to stop eating this tender and succulent chicken and pork, now I’m not so sure. -ejm


edit 4 September 2010: Please read TPH’s post Smoking on the BBQ: Part 2 about smoking salmon and mackerel. And while you’re at it, you must read about smoked macaroni and cheese as well.

This entry was posted in equipment and techniques, food & drink, main course, posts with recipes on by .

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6 responses to “where there’s smoke, there’s…

  1. Elle

    My Sweetie mans the grill and makes a wonderful slow cooked pork butt on the barbque using iced tea mix and garlic salt as a rub. If he is short of wood chips a splash of good bourbon or Irish whiskey ups the smokey flavor…a great thing to do when cooking salmon on the bbq, too because we like our salmon just barely cooked, so slow smoking is out for that kind of result. Love that you have given really specific directions…I might be able to do it myself.

  2. Patricia

    I was surprised and pleased to realize how easy it is to smoke food especially when you’re given very specific instructions over the phone and email several times! Now having smoked a pork butt AND a chicken, I feel like while I’m certainly not a smoke expert, I’m also not a smoke neophyte.

  3. katie

    Surely you do salmon? Other fish? Have you tried my smoked pasta? It’s the best thing since…. well, ever! Smoked pasta with barbecued pork….. Now, that’s good eats!
    Boys and their toys… We can’t buy wood chips – fortunately we had some apple trees at the last place and mon mari likes to be prepared….

  4. ejm

    Wow, Elle; how prodigal to splash Bourbon onto the wood chips ! Or do you splash it down your throats so that you just think the smoke flavour is there? :-D

    I’m really impressed that not only do you know how to smoke but you know how to turn on the bbq, Patricia! (I’m afraid that I leave the smoking and barbecuing up to T.

    No worries, Dave. Glad you like it.

    Ah, spoken like a true Babe, Katie! :-) (I don’t always read the whole post either…)

    Now many years later we love to smoke just about any kind of meat on our 20 year old BBQ. Meat with lots of fat; chicken, pork butts, pork side ribs, salmon, sausages, quail and beef ribs and brisket work best.

    -tph, 2nd paragraph of “Nothing Succeeds Like the Taste (and Smell) of Smoke”


  5. T

    Katie: Smoked macaroni and cheese? I’m *so* all over this. We’ll let you know how it turns out.
    Elle: This intrigues me. Where, exactly, to splash the whiskey?


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