Recipe courtesy of Lee Ann Whippen

Applewood-Smoked Chicken

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr (plus 6 hr brining)
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 2 to 4 servings
Florida doesn’t have its own barbecue style, but if anyone can change that, it’ll be Lee Ann Whippen. In 1996, she became a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society judge alongside her dad, Jim “Trim” Tabb, and she’s been manning the pit in restaurants and competing in barbecue championships ever since. She was also the first winner of BBQ Brawl: Flay V. Symon! At her Tampa restaurant, she gives Floridian classics the barbecue treatment: The namesake deviled pig is a spin on Tampa’s famous deviled crab croquettes.


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  1. Make the brine: Whisk 2 cups water, the apple cider, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and honey in a medium saucepan until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large glass bowl or other heatproof container and refrigerate until cooled, 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Add the chicken to the brine, making sure it is completely submerged. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat a grill to medium low and prepare for indirect cooking: On a gas grill, preheat the grill, then turn off half the burners. On a charcoal grill, light the coals, then bank to one side; put a disposable aluminum drip pan under the grates on the unlit side of the grill. Meanwhile, soak the applewood chips in water, 30 minutes; drain. 
  4. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels and generously sprinkle all over with the dry rub.
  5. When the grill registers 275˚ F, add the wood chips: On a gas grill, fill a smoker box with the chips and use according to the manufacturer’s instructions; on a charcoal grill, sprinkle the chips over the coals. Place the chicken breast-side down on the cooler side of the grill. Cover the grill and smoke the chicken until the meat is no longer pink around the bone and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thighs registers 175˚ F, about 2 hours (if using charcoal, adjust the air vents and add more coals as needed so the temperature stays around 275˚ F). 
  6. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest at least 15 minutes before carving.
  7. Photograph Ralph Smith