One glance at the window let me know what I was up against. The morning dew was thick, and heavy against the window, as if it wanted to come in, trying to escape the high heat and humidity that was already in place. It immediately brought to mind one of those sultry, southern days, complete with big covered porches, iced drinks in one hand and a slowing fluttering fan in the other. No folks, there just wasn’t a breeze to be found. Flowers and trees were bearing the weight of the moisture, unable to shake it off. The sun decided to use the opportunity to make itself known through prisms and shadows. And yet all I could think of was how this was going to be a great day to fire up the smoker and watch those ribbons of smoke twist up towards the heavens. Because the thoughts of hot Southern days were stuck in my mind, I knew that the chicken heading to the smoker would now have to follow suit, so a brine of sweet tea would be in order, along with an herb rub and lemon slices. And so it was decided. Sweet tea brined chicken with lemon slices and an herb rub.
Just as advertised, the next few moments were spent painstakingly opening and pouring a small bottle of sweet tea over a couple of chicken breasts and thighs enclosed in a ziplock bag. I tossed in some onion slices and garlic cloves as well, then stashed it away in the fridge for a couple of hours. As much as we talk about grilling being a relaxing sort of activity, I did make sure to go and agitate that tea brined bird every now and again, just to make sure all the chicken was getting a full drink. Meanwhile, I commenced to making up, and I do mean “making up“, a dry rub with whatever I could find around the house, either in the pantry or out in the garden. This turned into a combination of dried shallots, garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, and who knows what else. I can’t promise you that I mentioned, or remembered all that I put in there, but that list I just gave you is close, and can be modified to your liking anyway. I’m OK with that.
With the seductive aroma of smoldering applewood and hickory hanging in the air, I knew the fire was ready, so those chicken pieces were rinsed, patted dry, and then rubbed down with the herb mixture. And because sometimes sweet tea can use a bit of lemon, I slid some thin lemon slices under the skin on the chicken, all discreet and sneaky like.
The chicken enjoyed the wood smoke sauna at about 200 degrees, as evidenced by this little peek.
I cut a lemon in quarters and put that in the smoker as well, but for my own selfish motives, which I will disclose in due time. But for now, I’m just gonna assume the smoking pit jockey pose, that being comfortably nestled into a web lawn chair, cold drink in hand, and random thoughts bouncing around inside my head. And once those random thoughts are all categorized into the must-do, can’t-do, won’t-do files, my thoughts turn back to the matter at hand, my sweet tea smoked chicken. A southern inspired bird to enjoy on that big ol’ wraparound porch with the company of others.
The skin turned into a beautiful, crispy, herb crusted shell, with the meat remaining juicy and slightly sweetened from the tea. The lemon added the little tartness that I had hoped for, and that smoked lemon? Well, that didn’t go to waste either. Cheers!
Because Life Is Better Wood Fired