As some of you know, this past year I decided to buy a pellet grill/smoker, which was a big deal (at least for me) as I had always used charcoal and wood. Today’s recipe was absolutely perfect for a pellet grill because you can quickly increase the temperature just as you might with an indoor oven. This recipe was so darn easy and extremely reasonably priced, as I was able to buy twelve large chicken legs for a little over $6. We fed four people and had leftovers. While a pellet smoker is perfect for this recipe, a smoker and an oven can accomplish the same thing. Heck, my neighbor Tex could even make this on his gas grill, although he has reminded me on more than one occasion that he also has an electric smoker. Let’s get started.
BACON WRAPPED AND SMOKED CHICKEN LEGS
12 large chicken legs
1 package of normal (not thick) cut bacon
1 bottle of oil based Italian salad dressing
First, pull the skin of the chicken down towards the bottom of the drumstick, and then with a rag or paper towel, pull the skin entirely off of the chicken. The rag or the paper towel is used to get a firm grip on the slippery skin. It speeds up the process.
Now, place all the skinless wings in a large zip-close back. Pour the entire bottle of Italian dressing on the chicken and close the bag halfway. Finally, squeeze the air out of the bag and fully close. Set in the fridge and allow to marinate for two to four hours.
After well marinated, begin wrapping each leg in a piece of bacon. I started at a 45-degree angle with the bacon at the meaty portion and finished at the narrow end of the bone. There was no need to secure the bacon with a toothpick but I suppose you could. I placed the legs on a cookie cooling rack and moved the rack to the smoker set at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. I let the chicken smoke for two hours and then cranked up the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The purpose of the higher temperature was to give color to the chicken and crisp up the bacon. You could accomplish the same thing (the higher temperature portion) in an oven. It will still taste smokey because of the low temperature smoking prior to the oven. If using a smoker, I would use hickory. If using a gas grill, use indirect heat on a low setting and a smoke box with smoldering hickory chips. Then crank up the heat while keeping the meat opposite the flame (not directly over it) to crisp things up. Liz even loved these and she’s not a huge fan of chicken legs.
In terms of the pellet smoker, I am really getting the hang of it and am really enjoying it. If you are contemplating buying a pellet smoker you are welcome to contact me via email with questions and I’ll be happy to give you the real scoop, both the good and the challenging. Give this recipe a try. You will like it.