Alabama Smoked Chicken Quarters
I know the breast and wings are the most popular pieces of meat on a chicken, but if you ask the right people they’ll tell you that the Dark Meat – and Alabama Smoked Chicken Quarters is where it’s at!
Not only do legs and thighs have more flavor than their counterparts but they’re also more forgiving when it comes to cooking. If you overshoot a breast on the grill, you can forget it. There’s no amount of sauce that will save you, but legs & thighs stay juicy even if you overshoot the temperature by 10 degrees.
This week I’m smoking what I call my “Alabama Smoked Chicken Quarters”… which is Smoked Chicken Quarters dipped in an Alabama White Sauce.
Instead of a traditional tomato based sauce, I’m finishing the quarters in a quick bath of white bbq sauce made famous in the state of Alabama by Big Bob Gibson.
You can find leg quarters fresh or frozen for as little as 0.50¢ per lb, so we’re talking inexpensive meat here. If you’re doing chicken for a crowd, quarters are the way to go.
For this recipe I bought a pack of 4 Chicken Quarters. (enough for a family dinner)
Remove the leg quarters from the packaging and place in a large plastic bag. To get some flavor into the Smoked Chicken Quarters I marinate the quarters in 1 bottle of Zesty Italian dressing for at least 4 hours. (doesn’t hurt to let them soak overnight).
Place the bag in a shallow dish just in case it leaks, and into the refrigerator it goes while the Smoked Chicken Quarters marinate.
After several hours remove each piece from the marinade and let the excess drip back into the bag. If some of the spices from the Italian dressing stick to the outside, it’s ok… That’s just extra flavor!
For the outer seasoning I use a blend of seasonings I call my “Alabama Smoked Chicken Quarters Rub”
Alabama Smoked Chicken Quarters Rub recipe:
- 3 cups Salt
- ¼ cup finely ground Black Pepper
- 1/8 cup ground red pepper
- ¼ cup Granulated Garlic
- ¼ cup Chili Powder
- ¼ cup Accent
Sprinkle each side moderately with the chicken rub and let it sit while the smoker is coming up to temp.
Today I’m cooking on a Yoder pellet grill but any grill or smoker will work for this recipe. The key to good chicken is maintaining a temperature of 275-300 degrees. It may sound a little high for smoking, but trust me; this range will cook the skin perfectly while the meat stays tender and juicy.
For smoke flavor I use Cherry pellets on chicken because they’re mild. If you’re using something else be careful, because chicken can absorb smoke fast and it will taste bitter if you go to heavy with the wood.
When the pit hits the target temp it’s time to start cooking. Place each Alabama Smoked Chicken Quarters skin side up on the rack and close the lid for 1 hour. Keep an eye on your cooking temperature and hold it at 275 degrees.
After an hour, the skin has started to get some color and firmed up a bit. Now it’s time to flip the chicken skin side down to really render that fat. This will give it that soft, bite-through texture. There’s nothing I hate more than rubbery chicken skin! Set a timer for 30 minutes.
Once the timer goes off, flip the chicken skin up. It’s a good idea to check the internal temperature here. Alabama Smoked Chicken Quarters need to cook to an internal of 175 degrees, at the 1:30 mark they’re right at 160 internal, so they should need a little more cooking. I set the timer for 20 more minutes at this point.
At the 1:50 total cook time mark, these thighs were registering just over 175 degrees which is right where I want them. It’s ok if the temp slips past 180. Like I mentioned earlier dark meat is forgiving and will remain juicy even if it’s a little over cooked.
If you want to go the traditional route, you can glaze these Alabama Smoked Chicken Quarters with your favorite sauce right at the end of the cooking process. I’m opting for a different style of chicken today. This is where the Alabama sauce comes into play. It’s a mayonnaise based sauce with a touch of vinegar and some heat.
Alabama Smoked Chicken Quarters White BBQ Sauce:
- 2 cups Duke’s Mayo
- ½ cup Cider Vinegar
- 1 TBS Course Ground Black Pepper
- 1 TBS Granulated Garlic
- 1 TBS Sugar
- 1 heaping teaspoon minced Horseradish (I use the kind from a jar)
- 1 tea Salt
- ½ tea Ground Cayenne Pepper
- Juice from 2 Lemons
Whisk the above ingredients in a large bowl and store in the refrigerator for a few hours before using. It makes enough sauce for 8-10 Alabama Smoked Chicken Quarters.
To sauce the chicken pour the White Sauce into a bowl large enough to hold a leg quarter. Dip each piece into the sauce and turn to coat both sides. Now you have Alabama Smoked Chicken Quarters!
The sauce is creamy, tangy, and spicy all at the same time. The next time you’re thinking about cooking chicken; make up a batch of this white sauce and give it a try.