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The stuffed barbecue baked potato is one of the great, and sometimes underrated, pleasures of the barbecue world, and smoked chicken is the perfect filling. Of course, you can absolutely use brisket or pulled pork as your filling too, but I find that chickens are much easier and cheaper to smoke at home, so that’s what I use. One day I will have my brisket revenge, and we’ll do brisket potatoes. One day…
About two years ago, I bought a used Traeger grill, and it has been an awesome addition to my cooking arsenal. One of my favorite things to smoke is a whole chicken. The flavor is so smoky and yummy, and it doesn’t take very long (relative to beef or pork) to smoke. Often, I’ll spatchcock my chickens, but not always. If I know I want to do stuffed BBQ potatoes, I’ll cook the potatoes on my Traeger, too. Smoked baked potatoes = yum.
What the Heck Does it Mean to “Spatchcock” a Chicken?
Let’s just get this out of the way, the term “spatchcock” is kind of terrible. Can we not come up with another term? How about a flattened chicken? Butterflied whole chicken? I mean really, anything would be better, but “spatchcock” is the word we use for a whole chicken with the backbone removed so it can be laid out flat.
According to Saveur,
The term “spatchcock” is rumored to be a 17th century shorthand for “dispatching the cock”, meaning to open a chicken carcass in order to cook it. This technique involves splitting the chicken by removing the backbone so you can flatten it, resulting in crispier skin and even, quicker cooking.Saveur
A spatchcocked chicken looks like this:
To spatchcock a chicken, get a rimmed baking sheet, and put your whole chicken on the baking sheet, breast side down so the backbone is facing up towards you. With heavy duty kitchen shears, cut through the chicken on each side of the backbone to remove it. A note about kitchen shears, just get them. Trust me, I broke so many pairs of regular scissors doing this before I finally got kitchen shears. Just get the shears. They won’t break, and they come apart so cleaning them in the dishwasher is easy, but I digress. Back to the smoked chicken.
Prepping Your Chicken
After you remove the backbone, flip the chicken over and lay it out flat. I kind of crack the rib cage to get it to lie flatter. If that grosses you out, feel free to skip it. In fact, if this whole process grosses you out, don’t do it! It’s not strictly necessary. Spatchcocking your chicken helps it cook a little faster, but it’s not way faster. Feel free to leave the chicken whole if you wish. Just remember to remove the giblets, if there are any.
After your chicken is prepped, You’re going to brine it. This can be done for up to 24 hours, but I often just do it for an hour, and it’s fine. To brine your chicken, dissolve 1/3 cup of kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar in a couple of cups of water in the insert of your instant pot, or a similarly sized bowl. You want a bowl that will fit a whole chicken. After the salt and sugar is dissovled, put your chicken in and fill the bowl with water so that the chicken is covered. If you’re only leaving your chicken in the brine for an hour, you can leave it on the counter, or put it in the fridge until ready to use. Now it’s time to get your potatoes on the smoker.
Smoked Baked Potatoes
I’ve used two methods for smoking potatoes on the Traeger. I’ve smoked them at 225 degrees F for 4 hours, or at 350 degrees F for just over one hour. Honestly, they turned out the same. I don’t really see a need for the 4 hour smoke, unless you’re cooking something with a long cook time anyway and can just put the potatoes on at the same time. In the case of a smoked chicken, cook them at high heat while the chicken is brining.
Preheat your smoker to 350 degrees, clean your potatoes, poke a few holes in them with a fork, rub them in olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper on them and smoke those spuds at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until soft all the way through, then remove them from the smoker. When your potatoes are done, your chicken should be done brining. The only downside to this method, is that you’ll need to re-heat your potatoes after the chicken is done smoking. I just microwave them before I put the toppings on.
Smoking the Chicken
When your chicken is done brining, take it out and put it on a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels. With more paper towels, pat the chicken dry. Then, stuff some compound butter, in this case, butter with garlic, lemon zest, salt, and creole seasoning, under the skin. You do this by sticking your finger under the skin of the breast and wiggling it around to make a little pocket. Be sure to get over by the leg so you can get butter in there, too.
Then, your chicken is ready for the smoker! Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees, Put your probe thermometer in the thickest part of the breast, and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. This takes about 3 hours. If you get impatient, you can turn the heat up a little but after the first hour of smoking. I usually do this and still get a good smoke ring.
Let your chicken rest for half an hour on a cutting board, then carve and slice (or dice for the potatoes).
Assembling the Smoked Chicken Stuffed Potatoes
Once your potatoes are done and your chicken is rested, it’s chow time! Slice open the potato (re-heat it if necessary), fluff the inside with a fork, add some chopped chicken, barbecue sauce, cheese, sour cream, green onions, and whatever else you’d like! Then dig in and enjoy the wonder that is barbecue stuffed potatoes.
I usually make extra potatoes and make vegetarian barbecue potatoes for lunches when the chicken runs out. So good.
Those of you saying “but I don’t have a Traeger!”, fear not. You can totally use chicken and potatoes roasted in the oven. It’ll be missing some of the smoky flavor, but will still be delicious. Also, this summer I’m going to work on a recipe for a whole chicken cooked on a propane grill, so stay tuned!
When you make this recipe, will you please leave a comment and a review on this post? I can’t wait to hear from you!
Smoked Chicken Stuffed Barbecue Potatoes
- pellet grill or other smoker
For the Chicken
- 1 whole chicken
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's, or another creole seasoning you can use any seasoning blend you'd like
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- zest of 1 small lemon
For the Potatoes
- 4 large russet potatoes feel free to make extra for leftovers
- 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- barbecue sauce
- sour cream
- shredded cheddar cheese
- slivered green onions
To Brine the Chicken
- Add the sugar and salt, along with a few cups of water to a bowl that will hold at least a gallon. I use the insert of my Instant Pot. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Add your whole chicken, either spatchcocked or whole, to the pot.
- Let brine for at least one hour in the refrigerator.
For the Potatoes
- Preheat pellet grill or oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash the russet potatoes.
- On a rimmed baking sheet, spread out the potatoes and poke them a few times with a fork. This lets steam escape during cooking.
- Slather potatoes with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cook either on the smoker or in the oven for about an hour, or until soft all the way through. Set aside.
To Smoke the Chicken
- Preheat smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove chicken from the brine, and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Dry the chicken with paper towels.
- In a small bowl, mix the butter, salt, pepper, Creole seasoning, garlic, and lemon zest until thoroughly combined.
- Slide your finger under the skin of the chicken at the back of the breasts to form a pocket under the skin. You may have to break through a membrane to do this, it's ok.
- Stuff the compound butter in the pocket, working it as far under the skin as you can.
- Place on the smoker and cook until an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit is reached at the thickest part of the breast. This usually takes between 2 and 3 hours.
- Rest on a cutting board for 30 minutes.
- Carve and chop your chicken.
- Slice a potato, re-heating if necessary, and add chicken and all of the garnishes you'd like.
- Dig in!