The dark meat of the chicken will be pink even when it is fully cooked, and this meat will taste a little like cured ham.
You may use any size of bird, or you may mix different sizes of birds. All the birds, regardless of size, may be processed in the same curing container. The sizes are not important because the amount of cure is measured and applied to each bird according to its weight. Use young, tender, well-chilled chickens that are suitable for frying or broiling.
Cure and seasoning for 5 lbs. (2.25 kg) of chicken
- 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) Bradley Cure — any flavor (Do not use more than this amount.)
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) poultry seasoning — packed in the spoon
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) onion powder
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) MSG (optional)
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) garlic powder
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) sage, rubbed — packed in the spoon
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) oregano
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) white pepper
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) paprika
- 1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) dill powder
- 1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) bay leaf powder
Note: If the meat weighs either more or less than 5 pounds (2.25 kg), the amount of cure mix applied must be proportional to that weight. For example, if the weight of the meat is 2 1/2 pounds (1.15 kg), then each ingredient, including the Bradley Cure, needs to be cut in half.
- Rinse and clean the bird, and then let it drain in a colander.
- Use a sturdy fork to pierce the chicken all over, especially the legs and breast.
- Prepare the proper amount of cure according to the weight of the bird. (If more than one bird is being cured, prepare the proper amount for each bird.)
- Apply the cure uniformly to the bird; a shaker with large holes works well for this. Be sure to apply the cure to the inside of the body cavity as well as to the outside skin.
- Cure the chicken in the refrigerator for at least four days. Rub all surfaces to redistribute the cure (overhaul) once a day during that period. The refrigerator temperature should be set between 34° and 40°F (2.2° to 4.4°C).
- At the end of the curing period, rinse the bird very well in cool water and blot it inside and out.
- Stuff the body cavity with paper towels that have been wrapped around crumpled newspapers.
- Store it in the refrigerator overnight, preferably with the tail pointed upward. Put a paper towel and several layers of newspaper under the chicken to absorb the water.
- The next morning, you will need to set up the smoker to finish drying the chicken. Preheat it to about 140°F (60°C).
- If possible, hang the bird with the tail pointing up. This allows the melted fat and juices to fall freely into the drip tray instead of collecting in the body cavity.
- Dry the bird in the smoker at 140°F (60°C). After the skin is dry to the touch (about an hour), cold smoke it for 3 hours at 85°F (30°C), or as low a temperature as possible. This will provide a mild smoke flavor. If you like a stronger smoke flavor, smoke the chicken for about 6 hours.
- Apply cooking oil to the skin.
- Hot smoke at 145°F (63°C) until the bird takes on a beautiful reddish-brown color (probably two more hours).
- Remove the chicken from the smoker.
- Apply salad oil to the skin again.
- Cover well with foil, but do not seal the foil tightly – leave a few small openings in the foil for steam to escape. (Because the chicken has been browned in the smoker, additional browning is undesirable, and the foil prevents this. The loose wrapping of foil allows some steam to escape, but it also prevents excessive drying.)
- Add about 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) of water to the inside of the foil.
- Roast the bird in a kitchen oven at 350°F (176°C) for about 2 hours.
- Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. When the internal temperature is 180°F (82°C), it is done.
Note: If the salt taste is too mild, the next time you make this product, add about 1 teaspoon of salt to the ingredients list. If the salt taste is too strong, reduce the amount of Bradley Cure by about 1 teaspoon.