Hi guys! I know it has been awhile since my last post, but a lot of things was going on with my life, so I didn’t have a lot of time in hands to come up with new contents for my blog. In fact, I had to focus on work, on family and most importantly on my health. As a matter of fact, I underwent a jaw surgery just few months ago, so I wasn’t really in the best condition to write or do anything demanding energy or concentration.
However, since everything seems to come back to order, I hope I will have plenty opportunities to share with you more of my favorite recipes and culinary experiences in the future. Starting right now, I want to share with you guys a recipe that is a staple ingredient in many countries in Central and West Africa: Smoked meat. Particularly smoked chicken. In my home country, Congo-Brazzaville, smoked chicken is usually used for stews — like peanut butter stew, okra stew — and soups.
As you can guess, in Congolese cuisine, smoked chicken isn’t really a dish in itself but it’s a basic ingredient for different dishes. Commonly, most Congolese from the diaspora who live in Europe would buy their smoked chicken at their local supermarket. But here in Canada, it’s kind of mission impossible to find smoked chicken. If anyone knows where I can buy smoked chicken in Montreal, please let me know in the comment section.
Back to today’s topic, since I’m not able to find smoked chicken in stores, I make it myself at home using my charcoal barbecue during summer time. I smoked enough chicken to store it in the freezer, so I can use it during winter time. Thankfully with the charcoal brand and wood chips I used, the result is quite satisfying for me. I know it’s a success because the simple smell of the smoked bird brings back so many childhood memories. However, I need to issue an important warning; while smoking your own meat at home is a good thing, you need to expect that the whole process of smoking meat to get a great result takes a long time. It can take hours for your chicken to be perfectly smoked. So, you will have to grin and bear it. But when it’s all done, you will enjoy using the fruit of your hard labor in different recipes.
For me, the fun part of smoking your own meat is that you are the “decider” in picking the aroma when you chose the type of wood chips or wood chunks that you’ll use in the smoker. I read somewhere that fruit woods such as apple, cherry or peach work perfectly with poultry and pork but are too strong when you smoke fish for example. Woods like pecan and maple also are great for poultry. Since last year, when I smoke chicken I love to use apple wood because of its mild and very subtle sweet and fruity flavor.
If you want to learn more about the process of smoking meat, I will advice you to watch some tutorial videos on Youtube or educate yourself by buying cooking books specialized on this type of cooking method. In fact, I will highly recommend people to read Will Fleischman’s Smoking Meat: Tools – Techniques – Cuts – Recipes; Perfect the Art of Cooking with Smoke, which is the perfect introduction to the cooking method of smoking meat because you get to understand this technique while learning to avoid common mistakes. I bought this book a year ago, and it’s basically my Bible when it comes to smoking meat or fish at home.
Prep time: Cooking time: 2 hours to 2 hours 30min Servings:
1 Whole Chicken
¼ cup of Coarse Kosher salt
Black pepper (optional)
1 cup of wood chips
In a large bowl, rub the chicken with coarse salt, inside and out. You can add pepper if you choose to. Cover with plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge overnight.
Soak the wood chips or wood chunks in water, follow the instructions on the package for the time the chips and chunks need to be soaked.
In the barbecue tank, place the charcoal in half-moon, so as to place a tray of water (preferably a metal container) under the cooking grid on which will be placed the meat. Light your fire as you usually do. Once your fire is on, scatter the presoaked wood chips on the embers.
Place the meat on the cooking grid, above the tray of water, and cover with the top lid. Let the meat cook and smoke for two (2) hours or until the skin of the chicken turns golden brown. Just make sure to place enough embers to fill one side of the barbecue, being careful not to obstruct the air intake.
After two (2) hours, remove the chicken from the barbecue and let it cool on a cooling rack. You can either chose to use the meat right away in a soup or stew recipe, but you can also store it in the freezer until you find the perfect recipe to use it.
To get the best quality smoked chicken, pick the best quality chicken, don’t use cheap meat. Contact your butcher and ask for the best quality chicken.
I only use one cup of wood chips but keep in mind that the more wood (chips or chunks) you use, the more powerful the flavor will be. So, it’s up to your taste.
You can also mix two types of wood for extra flavor. For example, apple wood goes well with oak wood.
I use a charcoal barbecue, but you have a gas barbecue I’m sure you can use it as well, just follow your barbecue instructions.
I dispersed my presoaked wood chips directly on the embers, but it’s possible to wrap the wood chips in a perforated aluminum foil instead.