Smoked Honey Mesquite Chicken Salad
Oh, the smoked chicken; flavorful, versatile, and perfect for salad!
Who doesn't love a good chicken salad?
Now before you go digging out the iceberg lettuce and cracking open a fresh bottle of ranch dressing, this isn't that kind of chicken salad. However, feel free to customize it as we go. That is the beauty of smoking a whole chicken. It leaves plenty of room for a pitmaster to get creative with the meals later, and this one is one of my favorite.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 3-4 hours
Smoker Temp: 250°F
Whole Chicken (5 lbs)
Mayonnaise (1 1/2 cups)
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Onion Chopped
2 Stalks of Celery
Parsley to taste
Salt & Pepper to taste
Ignite your smoker of choice and set that cook box to 250°F. I used mesquite wood for this recipe to give my chicken a bold, earthy flavor coupled with my seasonings. While things get heated, prepare to spatchcock your chicken. Spatchcock, which is the process of removing the backbone from a chicken that allows you to cook your bird flat, is not as tricky or steamy as it sounds. Although, some call steam the invisible cousin of smoke. I'll eat a smoke chicken over a steamed one any day.
In all seriousness, spatchcocking is helpful for two main reasons. First, it speeds up the cooking time, and second, it allows the chicken to more readily absorbs the smoke creating an even more flavorful meal.
With a sharp pair of sharp kitchen shears, cut up one side of the backbone. I used my Butcher BBQ Poultry Shears; they're stainless steel, easy to grip, and equipped with a safe storage lock. Repeat by cutting up the opposite side, and once finished, remove the backbone. To finish the job, face your now open chicken up and cut the sternum.
Now your chicken can spread out and be placed on your preheated grill.
Next, brush on a thin coating of Butcher BBQ's Butter Grilling Oil onto both sides of the bird.
This newly spatchcocked chicken is prime to be seasoned, so give it rub down with two of Butcher BBQ's superb seasonings Grilling Addiction Dry Rub Seasoning and the Honey Rub "The Original". The first seasoning will add aromatic garlic and onion flavor and the Honey Rub couple with a sweet finish to every bite.
Place the chicken on the smoker, skin side up. Close the lid and let it cook. Smoke the chicken for approximately two hours, or until the chicken's internal temperature reaches 165°F. Check an eye on the internal temperature and apply a thin coat of Butter Grilling Oil every 45 minutes to keep your bird moist.
Once the whole chicken reaches 165°F, carefully remove it from the grill, and allow it to rest and cool.
Enjoy the smells of your labor, and use this time to chop your salad ingredients if you have not already.
When your chicken has cooled to the touch, remove the meat from the bones thoroughly. This recipe was the perfect opportunity to try out my new BBQ Bear Claws from Butcher BBQ. If you aren't straight grizzly in the kitchen like I am, you can certainly coarsely chop the pulled chicken instead of shredding. Not as fun but does the trick. I chose to chop half a cup of the cooked chicken skin to add to my salad ingredients, and I ended up getting close to 5 cups of shredded chicken meat total.
Time to combine all of our ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, stir all of your salad ingredients together. Toss in the chicken, add salt and pepper to taste, and * chef's kiss* done.
Cooking a whole chicken leaves you with so many options for meals, and smoked chicken salad is my personal favorite. Sandwiches, salad toppings, or spoon to mouth, with the Butcher BBQ seasons and oils, every bite is better than the last.