To properly do whole chicken, you need a water smoker. for 20+ years, I used a Brinkman gourmet water smoker. I have now upgraded to my Ugly Drum Smokers with a water pan. you can fit 12 small Tyson birds into a single UDS.
Here is some Brinkmann gourmet cookouts (there are 3 cookouts on this page so it may take a while to load)This is Christmas of 2012. I bought a box of 12 chickens (45 pounds, $48 ). I smoked them and gave them away around the neighborhood and to friends. I brined them in the cooler with ice. I didn't realize the effects of the salt in the ice water and the birds were almost frozen the next morning
It all went great in the end!! They were squirting juice on every cut.
Like I said, 6 of the 12 birds were mostly frozen. the top rack cooks faster than the bottom rack on a Brinkmann Gourmet so I kept all the semi solid birds on the bottom rack until the top birds were cooked. I have real gauges on the lids but I still find myself using the el-cheapo gauges already on the lid. 20 year old habits die hard. I used Blue bag kingsford and mesquite chunks and I brined with salt/ big rons original then after they were washed, I seasoned with Lowry's Seasoned Salt. The first bird came off in 2.5 hours and the last bird came off after 5.5 hours (one of the smokers was running a lot cooler than the other 2). I gave a few away in the neighborhood and then we had 6 in the cooler for a "BBQ Santa" trip to town. I filled the cooler with hot water in the tub and left it there for 45 minutes. I dried it with a towel, dropped a clean towel in the bottom and used it to haul my chickens. after 2 hours, the chickens were still hard to hold with your bare hands. that's the first time I pre-heated a cooler.
I bought two Bus Boxes at Sam's and they work great for handling meat. I am glad I got them. Also, I thought of the Thermo Pen as a fashion statement when I ordered it but when you actually use one, it converts you. When you open the lid, see the temp and slam the lid shut in 5 seconds, you will understand exactly what you bought.
This is how much it melted in 12 hours (not much)
12 seasoned birds
the last 3 off the smokers
Then I did 12 birds in a single UDS
These two girls (below) had their first birthday and the mom asked me to cook some whole chickens. My water smoked chickens are a hit with the Filipina crowd. they had a big pot luck party in the park.
My contribution to the event was 12 water smoked chickens, Hot wings, UDS scalloped taters and UDS bourbon baked beans. The chicken was seasoned with Big Ron's HOH and seasoned salt and then marinated with a 12 pack of Busch beer.
I started at 630am and had everything packed in the car at 110pm (40 minutes late...)
I got the water smoker going and filled up 3 racks with twelve chickens
Then I made scalloped taters and bourbon baked beans
Hot wings with Big Ron's HOH, srirachi sauce and Big Rons BBQ sauce
The party was awesome. My Q was a big hit. the taters and beans were competing against a HUGE spread of Filipino food so it didn't get eaten as much.
The UDS had problems getting up to temp with the water pan in there. It never got over 250F. I plan on building a high heat UDS for a pizza. I think that will double as a water smoker also. I wound up bringing them up to temp without the water pan in the end.
Nobody knew the wings were hot wings and people of all ages snatched them up pretty quick. I heard about some shocked eaters later!
I kept the cooler of birds under the table and kept 3 birds at a time in this pan.
it was a pretty large gathering for a 1st birthday
Momma and babies
I had 5 birds left at the end. Then, one by one, people started asking for a bird to take home. I snuck one to my car and thought I would keep one "for the cook". Then, one last person asked and I came home birdless and happy.
Then I did 24 birds in 2 UDS's
This was Christmas of 2012.
Time for another "Foul Christmas" (2nd annual).
I got my grillin baskets out (I have my drums set up to be smokers or grills) and fired them up with mesquite chunks and blue bag Kingsford.
I seasoned the birds with Big Ron's HOH, then added Lowry's seasoned salt over that.
My 99 cent water pans with hot water and 4 cans of Bush per pan.
I had trouble holding temp the last time I did this, so I added more exhaust to my lids. So far, it seems to be getting it done
All went off without a hitch.
I started getting ready last night by doing a bunch of drilling and adding more vents to the lids and replacing the pizza pans with steel plates under the baskets. I finished this morning by converting my second UDS to have multiple rack heights for grilling like my first UDS. I didn't get the chicken on until noon. The first birds came off around 430.
I wrapped them up and passed them out in my town (holding back 2 for us)
The last batch was done around 530. My wife drove off and delivered chickens south and east and I drove off delivering them west and north.
Everyone loved the chickens.
I used 2 and a half bags of Kingsford, 2 bags of mesquite chunks and a 12 pack of Busch (8 in the water and 4 for basting by dumping a can an hour in each drum.)
I love my UDS's!