One of the benefits of being a Char-Broil All-Star is having the opportunity to preview new equipment. I recently received one of their new Digital Electric Smokers to try out and let you know what I think. I honestly couldn’t wait to get it. I have always dreamed of having a smoker but never had the room for one. Many of the best are horizontal cylinders that take up a lot of my limited outdoor space.
Traditional smokers use hardwood and are often difficult to keep the temperature level, requiring constant monitoring. Even with auto-feeding pellet grills, there is refilling and monitoring needed. We’ve seen the BBQ competitors up all night tending the fires on their smokers hoping to win the big prize. I know a few of them and am always in awe of their abilities to monitor 4 different types of food (brisket, chicken, ribs, and pork), each requiring different temperatures and timing. They are my heroes!
Couldn’t there be an easier way to smoke meats? After all, I’m not a professional competition BBQ gal. You bet there is and Char-Broil has done it! This smoker is electric and digitally programmed which means it automatically maintains the perfect temperature hour after hour. No fussing with it, little to no refueling thanks to a much larger smoker box, and you can literally walk away and let it do its thing. Thank you Char-Broil!
The smoker is about the size of an under-counter refrigerator making it the perfect size for patios and even apartment decks. There are 4 racks giving you room to smoke multiple foods at the same time. That means that on any day you can smoke enough to make several meals for your family – all at the same time with no extra work!
The unit comes with a probe thermometer that monitors the internal temperature of the meats, letting you know exactly what the temperature is at any time without having to open the door which lets out the heat and smoke. Once the food reaches the temperature you set, the unit automatically switches to a warming setting, keeping your food ready to serve without overcooking.
A friend and I decided to give this new toy a test drive together and we smoked 4 whole large chickens, about 6-1/2 pounds each. A little compound butter under the skin on the breasts, two lemon halves tucked inside the cavities, a quick brushing with oil and sprinkling of dry rub, and then we slid them into the smoker. They go straight onto the racks to get the most even exposure to the smoke – no extra equipment needed.
You can use any type of wood chips or pellets you like and you don’t have to pre-soak them! I used apple wood which has a gentler flavor that doesn’t overwhelm more delicate foods like poultry, pork, and fish. I would avoid the stronger mesquite and hickory because they may leave a slight bitterness in the finished chicken.
This smoker is truly a “set and forget it” appliance. Once we had the birds in there, my friend and I spent a few hours chatting and making other recipes to enjoy with it for dinner. I didn’t have to constantly monitor it or fuss with it at all. The smoker box holds enough chips to last at least 6 hours, so no refilling needed except for larger cuts of meat. We literally put the chickens in it, closed the door, set the desired internal temperature, and walked away.
Four hours later we opened the smoker and found these perfectly cooked birds – I couldn’t have been more thrilled! I was like a proud mama taking shot after shot of my “babies” LOL.
The drip pan cleaned up easily after soaking for a few minutes in soapy water and the user manual suggests you wipe down the inside of the unit after each use removing any excess drips and splatters. There were surprisingly few.
After enjoying our dinner, we wound up with extra chicken and I used the cubed breast meat to make my favorite chicken salad. Mine is loaded with with tender roasted chicken, pecans, celery and sweet red grapes. Would the smoky leftover chicken work in it? Oh yeah!
The sweetness of the grapes beautifully balances the creaminess of the mayonnaise, and the celery and pecans add flavor and crunch. The smoky chicken brought everything together creating an even better salad than my normal one. If you don’t have a smoker or access to smoked chicken (or turkey), regular roasted or rotisserie chicken is delicious too.
Today we are wrapping up Food Network’s Summer Soiree series by sharing fun ways to celebrate your Labor Day weekend. I thought you would enjoy this salad, either as a stand alone main course or as a way to use up your leftovers. You can serve the chicken straight from the smoker – everyone will be drooling by the time it is ready – and use the leftovers to make this salad or you can smoke the chicken a day ahead and have the salad all made, making your party day even easier. After all, you deserve to enjoy yourself too and not spend the entire time cooking!
If you are looking for the world’s easiest smoker to create memorable meals for your family and friends, I highly recommend Char-Broil’s new Digital Electric Smoker. At just $250, it is a steal and if you use this discount code at checkout (B15JB) you can save 15% making it an even better deal!
Be sure to check out all the recipes below and pop over to our Pinterest page for more inspiration. Stay tuned for our Fall Fest which kicks off next week where we will be sharing more fabulous recipes utilizing the produce of the season!
Have a wonderful weekend!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Make a quick compound butter by mixing seasonings and herbs into a stick of softened regular butter. I like to make it in larger batches, firm it up in the refrigerator, then form it into small logs, wrap them, and freeze. You can cut slices to melt over hot grilled steaks, or soften and use to self-baste chickens like I did today.
For the smoked chickens I used a combination of the same dry rub I used on the outside of the birds, along with onion and garlic powder, dried thyme, salt and pepper. Slipping a walnut-sized piece under the skin on the breasts and pressing it from the outside, smeared it over the breast meat. It melts as the chicken cooks, keeping the meat moist and adding flavor that often stays just on the skin.
Do not buy pre-seasoned or brined birds because they often include gluten ingredients. Mix together your own dry rub or you can use Stubb’s brand – their entire line of products is gluten-free!
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 4 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 5 tsp honey or agave syrup
- 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 lb smoked boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
- 2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
- 3 stalks celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 3 green onions trimmed and thinly sliced, or 1 small red onion peeled and minced, a few tablespoons reserved for garnishing
- Washed individual lettuce leaves, for serving
- In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. You can make the dressing up to 2 days ahead.
- Cut the smoked chicken into bite-sized chunks and place in a large bowl. Add the pecans, grapes, celery and onions. Toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss again until everything is evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasonings with more salt and pepper if needed. Chill until ready to serve.
- To serve, lay a lettuce leaf on each serving plate. Add a scoop of the chicken salad, sprinkle with a few extra green onions and serve. Alternately, you can use the same mixture to make sandwiches.
- Yield: about 8 servings
- Note: If grapes are out of season, you can use apples, pears, pineapple, dried cranberries, or other favorite fruits.
Create a New Tradition Today!
This recipe is part of Food Network’s weekly Summer Soiree celebration. See the links below for inspiration and great recipes and check out our Pinterest page for even more!
The Lemon Bowl: Lemon Garlic Chicken Kabobs
Bacon and Souffle: Roasted Shrimp Orzo
The Hungry Traveler: Ginger Vanilla Fruit Salad
Homemade Delish: Festive Champagne Punch
Dishin & Dishes: Savory Tomato, Roasted Garlic and Mozzarella Tart
Creative Culinary: Zucchini and Cream Cheese Casserole
TasteBook: Apple-Pecan Chicken Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Batter Fried Pepper with Tzatziki Sauce
Healthy Eats: 6 Fall-Forward Recipes for Your Labor Day Celebration
Domesticate Me: Lobster Avocado Toast
Taste with the Eyes: “Margarita” Salmon Burger with Tequila, Lime, and Hatch Chiles
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Grilled Shrimp & Peaches with Arugula Pesto
Red or Green: Spicy Greek Chickpea Spread
The Heritage Cook: Smoked Chicken Salad (Gluten-Free)
The Mom 100: Yogurt Berry Pops
FN Dish: The Last Hurrah: Grill Absolutely Everything on Labor Day
Disclaimer: Char-Broil sent me with the smoker for review. I was not asked to write this post nor compensated for it. All opinions are my own. I only recommend products that I personally like and believe you will too.
Let’s connect! If you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, need to alter a recipe for gluten-free, or want recipe suggestions, don’t hesitate to email me. I can also be found at the social media site links on the right. Thanks for joining the Heritage Cook Family!
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