I grew up in a family of eight. With lots of kids, my parents got pretty good at figuring out frugal entertainment. One of my favorite things was when we would go up to Springfield’s Bass Pro Shop and just spend hours walking around. The one in Springfield, Missouri is nearly 500,000 square feet and filled to the brim with wonderful things to see. Now, I take the kids there whenever we are in the area
Last time we were visiting, we actually entered a drawing for a $2500 shopping spree. Not that we expected (at all) to win. But in addition to looking at the tigers and bears we joked about how we would spend it. “Give me 500 for a gun, and you can have the rest.” Mark challenged me if I could find $2000 worth of stuff that I would want to purschase. We are not very outdoorsy people, and Mark already has a ton of camping gear. “Oh, I can spend it all right. They have cast iron.” Turns out that even getting every single cast iron pan, and a meat grinder for good measure, left me quite short of our imaginary allowance.
Then I saw it. Sitting there not far from the cast iron pots and pans. A big, black, beautiful smoker. I no longer had trouble figuring out how to spend my imaginary allowance. Smoked meat is incredible, and I would be more then willing to learn how to do it.
Day dreaming aside, it turns out we did not win the sweepstakes (rats!) and we are fully smoker-less.
When I got a hankering for some barbecue chicken the other day, I figured I would just have to close my eyes and pretend. Chicken went into the crock pot. You can’t make barbecue chicken in a crock pot. Not anywhere close. But, you can make barbecue FLAVORED chicken in the crock pot. A delicious dish in it’s own right. One that is surprisingly easy to make, and perfect for indoor summer cooking.
I used chicken leg quarters, because that is a fairly forgiving piece of meat. It can stand up to long and slow cooking. But, the skin can’t really. Crispy skin is amazing, flabby skin is terrible. So I removed it. A bit sadly, but you can’t get crispy skin in the crock. I decided to lay it over the chicken though as the skin has a lot of flavor and helps to keep it moist.
As far as flavoring the chicken, I started with lots of spices, some liquid smoke (the kind that is really condensed smoke, not flavoring), and then finished it off with an easy barbecue sauce. To caramelize the sauce, I placed it under the broiler for just a few minutes.
The result was really delicious. It had a lot of flavor from the sauce and spices, and a touch of smokiness from the liquid smoke. Was it smoked chicken? No…but it was amazing. I actually was cooking it for dinner and it smelled so great we had it for a late lunch. I felt bad that Mark did not get any, but hopefully made up for it by making him corn-free mini hot dog bites for dinner.
- 4 chicken leg quarters
- ½ teaspoon natural liquid smoke (optional)
- Spice Rub
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons sucanat or sugar
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried mustard
- ¼ teaspoon chipotle
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
- For the BBQ Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 Tablespoon wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon SF, GF, CF Worcestershire sauce (omit if allergic to fish)
- a big pinch salt
- 1-2 teaspoons molasses
- 2 teaspoons honey
- For best results start the chicken in the morning to be reheated for dinner. But it can be made in early afternoon (it takes about 4 hours total to cook).
- Remove the skin from the chicken leg quarters by inserting your finger underneath it on the loose side of the thigh, and then pulling it off. If some stays around the knob of the drumstick that is fine. Don't worry about trimming the fat, it helps keep it moist.
- Mix together the dry rub ingredients. Season the undersides and edges of the chicken with a good bit of the spice mixture. Put the chicken leg quarters in the bottom of a 6 or 7 quart crock pot, what would be skin side up. Pour the rest of the spice rub over the chicken. Massage it in for a few seconds. Sprinkle the liquid smoke around the chicken.
- Lay the reserved skin over the seasoned chicken to help keep it moist and eliminate the need for added oil. If you would rather, you can put a touch of oil on each piece of chicken instead of the skin.
- Cook chicken on high for 3-4 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
- If you cooked in advance, refrigerate the chicken until 20 minutes before you want to eat it. But, you can also just proceed to the next step immediately.
- Mix together the bbq sauce ingredients. It is pretty basic because the chicken is already thoroughly seasoned. Baste the top of each quarter with ¼ of the mixture.
- Broil a few inches away from the flame for 4-5 minutes to set the sauce or 7-8 minutes if reheating the chicken (watch the sauce and move lower if it begins to burn).
Bonus points* for anyone who can point me to a good book on smokers, or even grills. I know next to nothing about either.
*Points don’t actually count for anything. But, they are cool.