Sunday, June 17, 2012

Smoked Chicken and the Hamster Wheel

Have you ever seen a hamster running on a wheel?  The faster the hamster runs, the faster the wheel turns, until the wheel is rotating so fast that the hamster can’t keep up with the speed of the wheel and ends up spinning dizzily hanging on for dear life.  Lately, I feel like that hamster.  I always talk about things being a little crazy here in the Matten household, but the past two weeks took crazy to a whole new level.  Without going into a lot of detail, by the middle of this week I literally felt like I was dizzily spinning – can you say vertigo?!!  Really.  Couldn’t even walk across the room!  I truly think that it was G-ds way of making me stop with no choice but to lie down and rest my weary self.  Mind you that a day or so later, I was back up and running on the wheel again (mildly dizzy doesn’t count!). For a short time I was forced to take a much needed break, and although I was sidelined, life still went on around me without slowing down and I’m back on the wheel again.

Check out these smokin' chickens!!
So, last week I had to take my boys in to the doctor’s office to take a test.  Of course I didn’t know that I was supposed to pick up a specific medication for that test, and of course, none of the pharmacies in the area actually had two doses of the medication.  So there I was running from pharmacy to pharmacy like a lunatic, rushing so that the physician wasn’t delayed.  (Picture the hamster again…)  During one of my sprints through a Walgreens, I passed pre-wrapped packages of mesquite wood smoker kits at 2/$3.00.  I grabbed two, raced to the pharmacy counter, paid for the medication and the smoker kits and sped back to the doctor’s office with not a minute to spare.  For those of you not familiar with wood smoker kits, a wood smoker kit is an aluminum foil package with wood chips inside and slits in the lid.  The kits I bought are used for smoking beef or chicken on the grill.  One of the easiest ways to grill chicken is to smoke it (do not put that in your pipe).  You can buy different types of wood chips that give different flavors to the grilled foods, like mesquite, hickory, or apple wood.  The idea is that you soak the wood chips in warm water for 30-45 minutes until they are saturated, then you place them in a smoker box directly on the coals or on the grill grates.   I have a small 4”x8” metal box that has holes on the bottom where I usually place my soaked wood chips.  As the chips cook on the covered grill they give off flavored steam which infuses the chicken with an awesome flavor.  Normally, I de-skin chicken when barbecuing, but when I smoke my chickens I don’t even bother.  After cleaning the chickens, I place them on the grill whole with the skin to help keep the meat juicy.  Easy, easy, easy, easy.  The bonus this week was that I didn’t even have to soak the chips!  It turns out that the wood smoking kits I bought were specially designed so that you just placed them on the grill, no soaking required.  Considering my fairly insane past few weeks, easy was really, really good!!  The chicken turned out fabulously with rave reviews (at least I think there were rave reviews…does it count if you pretend to be awake at the Shabbat table??).

It pays to be optimistic!!
(our first cherry tomato- actual size!)
Looking on the bright side of things (as I go flying past at high speed), in addition to finding the super time saving wood chip kits, our optimistic garden has had its first yield of a beautiful little red cherry tomato. The wonderful daughter that popped it into her mouth said it was one of the best she’s ever tasted! 

I have to admit that I’m truly blessed with an amazing family and especially dear husband (KIH).  He’s right beside me on that wheel, holding on to me as tightly as he can making sure I don’t go flying off, keeping me safe.  I know that, G-d willing, eventually the wheel will slow, and I’ll be able to run at a reasonable not-so-frantic pace…but until then…anyone have some oil so at least the wheel doesn’t squeak???!!!

It’s hard to believe that I am spending this Father’s Day without my father here.  Especially today, we are reflecting on the sadness of the empty place in our hearts, and can’t fathom that he’s not here with us.  I am going to try to be positive and focus on my children’s amazing father (KIH) today – my dear, wonderful, supportive husband.  And, yes…we did get him a tie!

Happy Father’s Day to all the terrific Dad’s out there!

Smoked Chicken
  • 1-4 whole chickens, cleaned, skin on
  • 2 cups flavored wood chips or wood smoking kit

If using wood chips and a smoker box, soak the chips in enough warm water to cover, at least 30 minutes. If using a wood smoker kit, skip this step.

Pre-heat the grill.  If using a gas grill, turn the heat to medium.  Place the wood chips in a smoker box.  If you don’t have a smoker box, you can make one by poking some holes in a small aluminum pan.  Place the smoker box on the grill grate (or directly on the coals if you like).  Place the chicken(s) breast side down on the grill.  Cover the grill and cook for 15 minutes.  Open the grill and quickly turn the chicken(s) over, smoking for an additional 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and measures 165° F using a meat thermometer.  Remove from the grill and serve hot.  Remove chips from the grill and allow to cool before discarding. Used smoker chips generally cannot be re-used.

The nifty smoker kit from
 In case you didn't know what to do...
 These are the wood chips you soak...
 Here's my smoker box with used
wood chips...too bad you can't use 
them again!
Toss the chickens on the grill with 
the smoker box.... 
 Smokin' hot baby!
 I added the second box for extra smoky flavor...
Gorgeous, easy, and DELICIOUS!! 
Now do the chicken dance...

Kosher Everyday is dedicated to the memory of my father
Dr. Theodore Saltzberg - Tuvia Ben Nachum Z”L
May his memory be for a blessing - Yihi zichro baruch.

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  1. Good for you for appreciating you husband, and cliché or not a tie always comes in handy.

    The chicken on the picture looks delicious, and boy do I love chicken, however I don't thinki I'll try the smoking process, I wouldn't even know where to buy one of those kits around here:)

    Bon apetit.

    1. Thanks for your comment! You don't really need a kit to make the smoked chicken. You can probably get the wood chips at your local kitchen supply store, Bed Bath and Beyond, or somewhere like Home Depot. I actually bought some hickory ones this week at Marshalls! You can take a small disposable aluminum pan, poke holes in the bottom and proceed with soaking the chips and cooking the chicken as directed in the recipe. It's pretty simple and the results are well worth the effort of finding the chips! Good luck and thanks again! Sharon

    2. Thank you for this clarification, perhaps I'll try it then :)