I love eating chicken, roasted, fried, grilled, and smoked. It is such a versatile protein that can be cooked in so many different ways.
I love this simple approach to smoking Chicken Maryland’s and I’m sure you’ll love cooking it too.
The great thing is you can use whatever rub and sauce combination you have on hand and experiment with different flavors.
You can use a nice savory rub and follow it up with a sweeter sauce for a glaze at the end.
I always end up with juicy mouth-watering chicken after every cook.
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What is Chicken Maryland?
Chicken Maryland traditionally consists of fried whole chicken leg, including the drumstick and the thigh. As you may have guessed, it originated in the state of Maryland.
Usually served with gravy and depending on where you lived in Maryland, various other garnishes like banana, pineapple, hush puppies.
Like most recipes, location is a big part of how it is cooked and what the cuisine is like in your area really dictates on how the meal is prepared.
In Australia where I live, Chicken Maryland purely refers to the butcher’s cut of the whole chicken leg with drumstick and thigh.
Now although it is traditionally a fried dish, I am smoking it for this recipe. I do love fried chicken but I’m always looking for different ways of cooking something that has been done a thousand times before.
Items that will help you cook these are:
- A 22” Weber Smokey Mountain
- Heat proof gloves
- Lump charcoal
- Thermometer with ambient temp probe (I used a ThermoWorks Smoke X4)
Smoked Chicken Maryland
When you smoke any food directly over smoldering charcoal, you are going to create another layer of flavor to your food. When the chicken fat starts to render down and drip through the grilling grate and onto those hot embers, your food then gets greeted by a kiss of smoke that is unlike any other.
Rendered fat turned into smoke is a truly unique flavor that needs to be experienced. In Australia we have at least one charcoal chicken shop in each suburb, sometimes two or more. They may all have different seasoning techniques but their cooking methods are the same, that is directly over lump charcoal as they know that secret ingredient is render fat, turned into sweet smoke.
Back that up with some smoking wood and you are truly in with a treat. I opted for cherry wood, it is mild enough to not overpower the chicken’s natural flavor and sweet enough that it will pair nicely with the rub and sauce I have selected for this cook.
What type of rub to use
In saying that, there are so many commercial rubs and sauces on the market these days, I do like to try some from time to time. Especially when I keep hearing great things about them.
Today I’m giving the Meat Mitch Rub a run. I like to taste rubs directly out of the jar before using them. Now this usually isn’t a full indication on their final taste after being exposed to the protein, heat and smoke but it will tell you if it is sweet or savory and whether it has any heat in it.
This one had a great savory taste, and it is how I like my rubs.
Nothing was really overpowering in the Meat Mitch Rub and I personally couldn’t taste one ingredient over another. These are great signs of a really well-balanced seasoning, so I was really looking forward to tasting the final product.
If you want to make your own rub you can’t go wrong with our Smoked Chicken & Turkey rub.
Before we apply any seasoning though, I like to use a jaccard to pierce the skin all over. These are commonly used by Chinese chefs to prepare their meat. By piercing small holes all over the skin, it will allow the fat behind the skin to render down and also allow our rub and sauce to penetrate onto the flesh.
It is always worth using some oil before seasoning your chicken. Not only does it act as a binder to help your seasoning stick but it will also aid in browning up the skin during the cook.
Once the chicken is coated in oil, make sure it is skin side down when you start to apply the seasoning. Why, because when you flip it over and expose the skin, that is what you’ll see when you plate it up, so best to make this side more presentable. So always season the side you want to see when eating the food last.
I like to apply a good solid base of rub all over each piece. I always have my rub shaker about one foot above my food, this just allows the rub particles to come out and separate fully before hitting the protein and therefore we minimise clumping and tend to get a more even coverage, ensuring each mouthful tastes the same.
Then I’ll place the chicken into the fridge until I am ready for it.
Prepping your chicken
I think we know that you have to ask for chicken Maryland’s when you go to your local butcher for this recipe.
I gave my butcher a couple of day’s notice, purely because I wanted the largest Maryland’s he could get me.
These ones were just under a pound each.
I feel if I was to have used chicken that was smaller, the chances of drying out the meat would increase and the last thing I want is dry chicken.
To prep the chicken, I started by removing any excess fat and loose skin that just wasn’t needed.
Then using a jaccard, I pierced the skin all over. Now if you don’t have a jaccard, you can use anything that is sharp, like a corn cob holder, toothpicks, or even a sharp knife.
The little holes the jaccard creates will not only help the fat render out from behind the skin but it will allow the flavor of our rub to penetrate into the flesh of the chicken as well.
Glazing the chicken
The sauce I used was an easy choice. I figured if I was using some of the Meat Mitch range, I may as well stay with that brand for this cook.
I used some of their Naked BBQ sauce. This sauce had a nice sweet flavor profile directly out of the bottle and it complimented the savoury taste of the rub really well.
I cut it down with a bit of melted butter. I find this just helps to give any glaze a little more sheen when finishing up.
Alternatively, you can use our homemade barbecue sauce recipe as it is also leaning on the sweeter side, just remember to cut it down with a little butter.
Setting up to smoke hot and fast smoking
I used a 22” Weber Smokey Mountain for this cook. I filled the charcoal ring with lump charcoal and three quarter filled a chimney starter with lump charcoal and lit it up. Once it was ready, I dumped the lit fuel into the centre of the unlit fuel and added a couple of chunks of cherry wood and then added an ambient temp probe to the grill.
Once the smoker was at a temperature of 300°F, you can place the chicken on the top grill and insert an internal meat probe and set it for 165°F.
Then you can put a third of a cup of sauce into a small cast iron pan and two tablespoons of unsalted butter. Now place that on the cooking grate as well and put the lid back on.
Once the chicken hit the internal temp of 165°F, give the sauce and butter glaze a stir and brushed each piece of chicken with it. Then place the lid back on and give the glaze a couple of minutes of heat to set.
Remembering the chicken is cooked already, so don’t leave it in too long, a couple of minutes is all the glaze needs.
Then take the chicken off the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before carving into it.
Smoked Chicken Maryland
- 4 whole chicken Maryland’s (around 0.8 lbs each)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp savory rub (I used Meat Mitch Rub)
- ⅓ cup sweet BBQ sauce (I used Meat Mitch Naked BBQ Sauce)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- Trim any excess fat and skin off chicken.
- Jaccard the skin (pierce little holes, with knife or skewers if you do not have a jaccard) and then coat with olive oil.
- Cover each piece of chicken with a generous amount of rub and then leave in the fridge while you get your smoker ready.
- Get smoker to 300°F and add smoking wood for flavor (I used cherry).
- Place chicken in smoker and insert a thermometer and set for 165°F.
- Place sauce and butter in smoker in a saucepan .
- Once chicken reaches internal temp of 165°F, glaze with sauce and butter mixture and allow a few minutes for glaze to set.
- Take chicken off heat and rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- With mashed potatoes.
- With steamed vegetables.
- With hot chips.