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When it comes to serving smoked chicken as a main course, most people will offer boneless breasts for the centerpiece of a meal and use smoked thighs as an ingredient in soups, salads, and casseroles. I'm an exception to that rule, choosing legs over breasts for just about any chicken dish I'm preparing. Legs and thighs have more flavor and are easier to keep juicy, although with a stovetop smoker keeping the breasts juicy is less of a problem. From the cookbook "Smokin".
- Trim any fat from the breasts before seasoning them. If you're leaving the skin on in preparation for serving the crispy-skinned version, trim any overhanging skin and smooth the skin into an even layer over the chicken. If not, remove the skin before smoking the chicken.
- Boneless chicken breasts absorb a lot of flavor and watch well with a wide variety of wood. Use less of the more assertive wood like hickory or mesquite, or more of the milder wood chips like alder or cherry. Use 1 1/2 Tblsp hickory or mesquite OR 2 to 2 1/2 Tblsp alder or cherry wood chips.
- Season the chicken breasts with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a scant 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper each, adjusting that amount to your taste. Or rub a generous amount of your
- favorite rub into both sides of the chicken.
- Close the smoker lid and smoke the chicken breasts until an instant read thermometer registers 170ºF, 18-22 minutes for 6-oz/3/4-inch thick breasts, 22-25 minutes for 7-oz/1-inch thick breasts; 25-30 minutes for 8-oz, 1 1/4-inch thick breasts. Check for doneness with the instant read thermometer about 4 minutes before the end of the time.
- outlined above.
- For crispy-skinned chicken breasts, choose a nonstick pan large enough to hold the number of breasts you are serving. Heat it over medium-high heat a few minutes before the chicken breasts are done smoking. Lift the chicken with tongs from the smoker and lay them skin.
- side down in the pan. Cook until the skin is crispy and deep golden brown, about 3 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
- Note: Four 7-oz chicken breasts will yield about 3 cups shredded chicken meat.