Spruce Smoked Chicken

For those of you who are intrigued by the flavor of spruce - the featured plant in this month's Wild Things Round Up - but have been hesitant to try it, this is the recipe for you.  Here, chicken is spruced up three ways - in a brine, in a rub, and finally, smoked to yield a grilled bird that is juicy and full of the wild taste of spruce.  This recipe is also ideal for those of you who don't yet have access to fresh green spruce tips, as older branches may be used to smoke the chicken.

The process of making the final spruce smoked chicken took half a day, but all of the steps were dead easy.  I started by cutting a whole (yummy yummy pastured yellow fat chicken!) into 10 pieces.  I made a very unscientific brine - a bowl full of cold water, a handful of salt, a big squeeze of honey, a few cloves of crushed garlic, and some roughly chopped spruce needles.   I sunk the chicken in the brine, and put it in the refrigerator for about 8 hours.

The next step was to remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and dry it, and rub it with a mixture of finely chopped spruce needles, freshly cracked pepper, and some crushed allspice (no additional salt beyond the brine), and let it sit in the fridge for another hour.

While the I let the chicken absorb more flavor from the rub, I prepared some spruce for smoking by wrapping several boughs into an aluminum foil package and piercing it roughly all over with a knife.

Finally, I threw the package of spruce down onto hot prepared coals, rubbed the chicken down with a touch of lard, and placed the pieces over low heat on the grill until they were cooked thoroughly, then finished them over high heat to give them brown crispy goodness.

I served spruce smoked chicken with grilled veg and a heaping serving of cheese grits.

So, you've been wanting to forage, but are a little unsure how to proceed on your own. Wild Things Round Up is a foraging challenge, and you are invited to join!  Spruce up a dish in your kitchen, and at the end of March, submit your blog post to wildthings.roundup@gmail.com   And if you need more inspiration, visit my co-host Bek at Cauldrons and Crockpots.  She's got great info about the medicinal properties of spruce/fir/pine, as well as some delicious and innovative recipes.

I'm sharing this lovely tidbit with Fight Back Friday.

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