Cooking a whole chicken can seem a bit overwhelming since it is most common to pick up meat at the local grocery store already chopped up and ready to cook. However, once you discover the juicy tenderness that can be achieved by slow roasting a whole chicken you'll have a hard time not wanting it done that way everytime! Something cool is that after the 2.5-3hr smoketime, you can just peel the meat off the bones (by hand if you can wait long enough for it to cool :-) Its a fun classic family BBQ item that can even be shared with the workplace such as we recently did with making a ricebowl bar for Cinco de Mayo!
The following are some of my families favorite and pretty much weekly items to put in the smoker barrel:
Leg of Lamb
How would you like to hear; "That is the best turkey I've ever had!" That is what most people say when they finally try a smoked turkey! With just about half a charcoal basket full and a few small chunks of wood, your smoker is designed specifically with turkey in mind to go the duration of the 4.5 hours it takes to hit a 165F internal temperature. Free up the oven for all of the other great fixings and smoke the bird the right way outside! Hang it with a couple of meat hooks or lay it up top on a grilling grate.
Put away the mint jelly because you don't need hide any "gamey" flavors of this leg of lamb. In about 2.5 hours you can achieve the 130F internal temp needed to perfect this traditional family specialty cut of meat! You'll be amazed by the tenderness and amazing smokey flavor that smoking slow and low will achieve.
Pork Back Ribs aka Baby Backs!
How about feeding a family of 5 for $10 on your center of the plate meat serving! The thing I love about pork loin is that you can easily take a cheap meat (typically $1.99-$2.99 per lb.) and with the smoker you can turn it into something delicious! Cook this guy about as long as a tri-tip, even put it in with your tri tip to give your family or party a "white-meat" option. Takes about 2-3 hours & I lay mine across the grilling grate. Simply rub on some garlic, pepper and salt or reference the same homemade rub I use on the ribs up above. Take a look at the smoke ring and the bark that my barrel created on this meat!
ps. soaking wood chips not needed with vertical smoker!
These alone are the reason why you should have a smoker barrel! I simply slather garlic powder, some salt (pink himalayan is our favorite), and some smoked paprika. If your not on a diet add some brown sugar as well! Click here to reference the videos at the bottom of the page, showing how to get your smoker going for the 4 hours these babies need to smoke!
Another great healthy option. I love me some fish, but my wife not so much. Because of the health benefits of salmon, my wife wanted to make the commitment to trying to eat fish once a week. Smoking it has made it much more palletable for her and we do enjoy it every week now. Really only takes about 1-1.5 hours in the smoker and look at how beautiful it turns out! Peeling the skin off after it cools is very easy and you know its done when the meat is flaky.
Silver Skin Debate: There is a debate amongst barbarbecuer's that you should remove the silver skin "the membrane on the underside" of the ribs" before you smoke them. Many people believe that the smoke won't penetrate through the silver skin as well if you don't remove it. Not only is it a pain to remove this before cooking, I am not of the believe that it is necessary when you have your ribs smoking for 4 hours! I have tried it both ways and have found no difference in how tender and smokey the meat turns out doing it either way. The video below show how easy it is to remove the silver skin once you've smoked the meat, rather than attempting this when the meat is uncooked. You can see that the meat is plenty tender underneath it thanks to the 4 hour smoking process! Remember to place the rack meat side up in your barrel so you don't loose all those great juices into the fire!