Rubbed in a common Middle Eastern spices, this stunning smoked chicken is perfect to smoke outside on a day when it’s too warm to cook inside. Serve with cool tabbouleh, tahini sauce and zhoug.
As the temperatures gradually begin to rise, our thoughts turn to al fresco dining and outdoor grilling. Come spring, I also like to dust off the smoker that’s been standing by idly in my basement all winter long. Nothing hardcore, just an electric smoker, but it does the job. I love its ease of use: turn on the smoker, add wood chips, set the temperature (for today’s chicken, 250F — low and slow), and into the smoker the chicken (and whatever else you want to smoke) goes. The smoker imparts a subtle smokiness that is by no means over the top. As well, the finished bird emerges nice and moist. Last summer, I smoked a whole leg of lamb (and it came out super moist and delicious).
The only other thing to decide is what type of rub for the chicken? I went with a combination of spices that are often found in Middle Eastern cooking — cumin, coriander, cardamom, clove, cinnamon — with a little help from garlic powder, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, allspice, salt and pepper…perhaps I went a little overboard in the spice department.
Of course, you could use this spice mixture to season a chicken before roasting it (or perhaps get a little crafty and create a stove top smoker).
Accompanying this whole smoked chicken are sides/condiments that complement the Middle Eastern flavors in the rub…
Tabbouleh: I went with a Lebanese version, heavy on the herbs (parsley and mint) with just a bit of bulgur.
Zhoug: Green, herbaceous, spicy condiment with Yemeni roots. I added a couple Thai bird’s eye chiles for heat along with plenty of parsley, cilantro, and spices.
Tahini sauce: Creamy, nutty, slightly garlicky dipping sauce.
Some flatbread with za’atar (a spice blend of sesame seeds, thyme, oregano, and sumac) oil for dipping.
Olives, lemons, and radishes on the side.
I made my own spice rub utilizing a combination of cumin, coriander, clove, garlic powder, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, clove, cayenne, allspice, cardamom, salt and pepper…
Spiced and Smoked Chicken
- 1 3 1/2 to 4 pound whole chicken (preferably from your local farmer)
- Olive oil
- Spice Blend
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- Tahini Sauce
- All recipes in the link above
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Rub or brush the chicken all over generously with olive oil and then the spice blend (you won’t need all of it). Place on a plate and let air chill in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 24 to 48 hours.
- Preheat the smoker to 250F with your favorite wood chips (used pecan and apple). Smoke until the chicken registers 165F, rotating half-way through. I ended up smoking my chicken for 2 1/2 hours (next time I might give it 15 minutes less; it’s all a bit of experimentation).
- Combine all spices in a bowl.
Linda Schneider is the blogger behind Wild Greens and Sardines, an homage to her love for all things food and [Mediterranean] travel. What she enjoys most is seasonal, farm-to-table recipes that highlight local ingredients, farmers, and food artisans. She loves going to local farmers’ markets, seeing what’s in season, and sharing recipes with others.