Our process is simple. Two hour brine, One and a half hours on the smoker, etc... Here is the detailed process.
First, we tried a new brine. Usually we make our own brine. We have done very well over the years with this brine. Chicken has always been a bright spot in our line up. But, we are looking to make a little tweak to move up and win. So, we tried Oakridge Game Changer Brine to see what it would do for our chicken legs. The ingredient list is simple, just how we like it: Sea salt, raw cane sugar, garlic, black pepper, onion, spices, chilies, blackstrap molasses, maltodextrin. No fillers, no MSG, no artificial colors, flavors or additives. Minus the orange juice, it looks and smells a lot like our brine. The smell from the brine on the stove was intoxicating. I could not wait to see how it would change our final product. The guidelines on the package recommend two to three hours of brining time. So, once cooled, we let our legs sit in the brine for three hours.
After three hours in the brine, I rinsed with cold water, patted them dry, then rubbed liberally with a mix of Butchers Honey Rub and Oakridge Secret Weapon Pork and Chicken rub. The Butchers adds a nice sweet component and the Oakridge adds a little spice.
Then, I placed on the smoker at 275 F with a few chunks of pecan in the ash pan. While the legs were cooking, I mixed up a batch of our sauce.
After 30 minutes of cook time, the legs get dunked in the sauce and placed in a pan skin side down. On top of each leg we place a pat of butter. The butter helps to get that nice bite through skin that the judges like.
After 30 minutes in the pan, we dunk the legs one more time in the sauce, add a bit more rub, then place them back on the smoker for 30 more minutes. We also ramp our temperature up to 325 F for the last 30 minutes of cook time. This helps to set the sauce and crisp up the skin.
So, at 275 F that is 30 minutes skin side up, 30 minutes skin side down in a pan after a dunk in sauce with a bit of butter, then a final dunk in sauce with a rub touch up and 30 minutes at 325 F skin side up.
At this point, I would give you a review of the Oakridge brine. But to be fair, I was getting over a head cold and my sense of taste was not very good. So, I will save my review for the next time we try this brine. But, I can tell you that Hope polished off a whole chicken leg. Why is this a great feat? She does not like dark meat. But, she kept on eating because she loved the flavor. Hope says it was the best chicken leg we have ever made. So, perhaps things are looking up for a top five chicken entry this year.
Thanks for stopping by,