How to make Beach Hill Smokehouse’s Texas-style smoked chicken—without a smoker
Darien List of Beach Hill Smokehouse has been sending plumes of smoke over the east end since 2018 while making some of Toronto’s best barbecue. List’s low-and-slow-cooked meats are known for their Lockhart, Texas, influences and their always-perfect moistness.
Time is a key ingredient. But since it’s not always practical to spend the better part of a day tending to a smoker, the pitmaster has adapted his smoked chicken recipe for a standard grill, so it can be ready in just a few hours. “Growing up, we cooked with charcoal and lighter fluid. I may have spent 10 years learning the secrets of barbecue, but I know you can cook great meat on a simple grill,” List says. “That is, so long as you know your grill and its peculiarities—every machine’s different.”
1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup brown sugar, packed
5 tsp cracked black pepper
5 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp sweet paprika
Smoker box or aluminum foil
Note: smoking wood chips can be purchased from most hardware stores, or speciality retailers like Dickson Barbeque Centre or Turn Up The Heat. List prefers mesquite or oak, but any kind of wood chips will work.
1. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, salt, pepper and paprika.
2. Rub the chicken with olive oil.
3. Massage the spice rub into the bird, making sure not to miss any nooks or crannies.
4. Refrigerate the chicken and let dry-brine for at least one hour. This allows the chicken to dry thoroughly while the rub penetrates the meat, resulting in a more flavourful bird.
5. In a large bowl, soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes. (Soaked chips burn more slowly and are less likely to fully ignite, which results in a cleaner, smoky flavour and fewer temperature spikes.)
6. Place the soaked chips inside the metal smoker box, or wrap a handful of chips in a tinfoil bundle and use a fork to make small holes.
7. Prepare the grill for indirect cooking—this will avoid flare-ups. Lift the cooking grate,
or grates, on one side and place an aluminum pan directly below to catch drippings. Replace the cooking grate.
8. Set the burners on the other side of the grill to low and preheat to about 250°F.
9. Place the smoker box or tinfoil pouch
on the grate over the live burners.
10. Place the chicken over the cool side of the grill, close the lid and walk away. Resist any urge to open the grill and see how the bird is doing. “If you’re looking,” List says, “you ain’t cooking.” (It’s okay to keep an eye on the temperature, though, and adjust the burners if necessary.)
11. After two and a half hours at 250°F, check the meat. When a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 160°F,
it’s ready. (List simply picks up the chicken, and if the juices run clear, he declares it done.)
12. Remove the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet or cutting board with a drip channel, tent with foil and let rest for about 10 minutes.
13. Cut the chicken into eight parts: breasts, wings, thighs and drums. Serve with cornbread, coleslaw, baked beans and mac and cheese.