Chicken on a Throne

This BBQ recipe starts with an awkward (for the chicken) cooking technique, but ends up with a smoky flavor that’s difficult to beat. the meat is moist and juicy with a great mahogany hue. It’s delicious by itself, but also particuarly great in a chicken salad.



4-8 servings


  • 2 Chickens, 3 ½ to 4 lbs. each
  • 5 tbsp. Northwood seasoning from Penzeys, or similar “grill” seasoning
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 ½ cup kosher salt or ¾ cup table salt
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 12 oz. cans beer. A dark, malty beer is preferred.
  • Alder smoking chips
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 onion
  • 2 stalks celery


Put 1 qt water and half the salt in each of two ziplock bags. Rinse and pat dry both chickens. Put a chicken in each bag, squeeze out all extra air, and shake the bags to mix the salt around. Refrigerate for 1 ½ hours. Meanwhile, put the alder chips in water and allow to soak.

After an hour, start the charcoal. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator. Rinse and pat dry. Mix the seasoning and the brown sugar. Put a tablespoon of the mixture in each chicken cavity, and then spread another tablespoon on the outside of the skin. Open both cans of beer. Drink half of each. Cut off the tops with a can opener, put in ½ tblsp. of seasoning, 2 garlic cloves, half the onion, and a tbsp. of cider vinegar. Do this slowly, or the beer will foam.

Once the coals are hot, put on half of the chips. Put the onion (quartered), and the two stalks of celery in 2 quarts hot water in the bowl of the water smoker. Put the cans of beer into the chicken cavities, and place the birds on the top grill rack, propped on their legs like a tripod. Smoke for 2+ hours, until 165 degrees (inserted into a leg), replenishing coals + alder chips every hour. Depending on the weather conditions, it can take much longer than 2 hours to finish. After the first two hours, stop adding any new alder chips. If it’s taking too long, you can finish the chicken in a roasting pan in the oven at 350 degrees.

Once done, take off and let rest 10 minutes. Carve.


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