We hadn’t made a whole chicken in our smoker in a while, so for last Sunday’s open house, I decided to make one. Chicken always comes out great in our Big Green Egg, and I decided to just go with a simple preparation. We happened to have a bunch of fresh basil around, so I decided to use that for flavor. I combined that with lemon and some salt and pepper, and smoked the chicken over apple wood.
This came out good. The lemon and basil favors worked well together, and the light seasoning allowed these flavors to come through nicely, while also showcasing the smoke flavor. As is usual for poultry cooked in the Big Green Egg, it came out very moist, and of course, we had no leftovers. (Note from Fearless Kitchen: Due to a bad case of Filth, FG delegated the actual spatchcocking and prepping of the chicken to our good friend Laura, who fulfilled her duties admirably. It was her first time prepping a chicken this way, and she was a little nervous, but it came out just perfect. Thanks Laura!)
Lemon-Basil Smoked Chicken (Serves 4) Approx. Cost Per Serving $3)
_ Big Green Egg or other grill / smoker
_ Wood chips or chunks for smoking
_ Meat thermometer
1 whole chicken
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
Fresh basil leaves
1 lemon, cut into rounds
- Spatchcock your chicken to speed cooking time. This is done by cutting out the backbone with a chef’s knife or cleaver. This allows the chicken to sit flat on the grid of your smoker.
- Mix the salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to form a paste, and rub under the skin of the chicken.
- Cut a lemon into rounds, and slip under the skin of the chicken.
- Take fresh basil leaves and insert under the skin of the chicken.
- Prepare your smoker for cooking. On my large Big Green Egg, I set up for indirect cooking with my plate setter legs up, and a drip pan in the plate setter. I put several chunks of apple wood on the fire for smoke flavor.
- Stabilize your smoker at your preferred temperature for chicken. In this case, I cooked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which I find gives a nice crispy skin while leaving the inside moist. I was also in somewhat of a hurry, and this relatively high smoking temperature allowed my chicken to finish quickly. If you have more time, you could certainly cook this at a lower temperature to get better smoke penetration.
- Cook until the internal temperature of your chicken is at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Let rest for 5 minutes, carve and serve.