Smoked Chicken with Sweet Peeper

Smoking a chicken on your grill is just as easy as roasting it in the oven–but the rewards of the al fresco method are even more alluring. The relatively short (45 minutes or so) of cooking time and a couple wood chunks results in a plump, juicy chicken with just the right whiff of smokey flavor. In fact, the chicken is so good you might consider roasting two–one for dinner, the second for chicken salad, tacos, tortilla soup, or chicken and dumplings later in the week.

Smoked Chicken with Sweet Peeper

Makes 4 Servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes plus an hour unattended marinating time
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes

  • One 4- to 4 ½-pound chicken
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 ½-3 tablespoons Sweet Peeper seasoning (depending on the size of your bird)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into wedges
  • 1 lemon, sliced into wedges
  • 4-6 sprigs fresh bay leaves

*Note: This recipe calls for fresh bay leaves, but feel free to add (or substitute) other fresh herb sprigs like thyme, rosemary and sage.

An hour before cooking, drizzle the chicken with enough olive oil to lightly coat, and generously season the inside and outside of the chicken with Sweet Peeper. Insert 3-4 wedges of onions and lemons inside the cavity (however many will snugly fit, depending on the size of your chicken). 

Position the chickens on a work surface, breast-side up, with the legs pointing toward you. Center a 2-foot piece of butcher’s twine under the back of the bird, and bring both sides around the wings (securing them to the carcass) and up and around the legs (securing them together). Place the chicken in a large, cast iron skillet (tucking any leftover onion wedges or herb sprigs underneath, and set aside to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Thirty minutes before you plan to cook, prepare your grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire. When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, use tongs to remove the cooking grate and place a drip pan with 1 inch of warm water on the side with no coals. Place a few chunks of hardwood around the periphery of the fire and return the cooking grate to its position and clean the grates. 

When the fire begins to produce a steady stream of smoke, place the skillet over the drip pan, close the grill, vent the grill for smoking and cook for 45 minutes to an hour (rotating the skillet 180 degrees every 15 minutes), until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken thigh reads 175℉. Remove from heat and allow the chicken to rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

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