Come Into My Kitchen

Slow smoking keeps this barbecued chicken crisp and juicy

Tim Lambert of Olathe is the third generation to make Grandpa’s Smoked Barbecue Chicken.
Tim Lambert of Olathe is the third generation to make Grandpa’s Smoked Barbecue Chicken. Special to The Star

In this busy Olathe family, Tim Lambert does most of the dinner preparation, as his schedule is more flexible than his wife’s. Tim and his wife, Jenn, have two middle-school age boys, and they are busy with school and work.

Tim works part time for the Olathe School District and is going to school to complete his master’s degree so he can teach full time, while Jenn is a corporate executive. In addition, the boys are involved with sports, and Tim is their coach.

Q: What are some of your family’s favorite dinners?

A: We are a typical, active family with a full schedule, which means we need quick, simple meals. Chicken or shrimp fajitas, spaghetti and this smoked, barbecued chicken are all family favorites.

I grill meat for dinner all year long, which means if it is snowy, I shovel a path to the grill.

Q: How did you learn to cook?

A: I am self-taught. While I started cooking in college, I wasn’t the best and I had to practice.

I really tackled cooking when I left a corporate job so I could spend more time with my sons. My schedule is more flexible than my wife’s, so I make dinner. My best advice for someone cooking each night is to have fun with it.

Q: Do you plan your meals, and when do you shop?

A: Typically, Jenn and I plan our meals for the week together each Sunday. We try to serve meals our sons will enjoy, while at the same time, we want to cook inexpensively. I do most of the grocery shopping once a week.

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Tim Lambert likes to experiment with different barbecue sauces and often combines several for a distinctive taste. Susan Pfannmuller Special to The Star

Q: Tell us about this chicken recipe.

A: I grew up in Iowa and I remember my grandma making it for my grandpa. Then my parents made it, and I remember my dad sitting by the grill, turning the chicken pieces about every 20 minutes, which was the perfect timing for the best chicken. Now, I make it often, as my sons love it.

This chicken is always a hit when I serve it to friends. The key is the slow smoking, which I do with wood chips on a gas grill. The skin on the chicken gets browned and crispy while the meat inside stays juicy.

If there is any left over, it is still good the next day. I often cook chicken thighs and have discovered that they are a great choice since they don’t dry out as easily as other cuts.

We serve potato salad, mac and cheese or Tater Tots with the chicken. This time of year, corn-on-the-cob is perfect with the smoked, barbecued chicken.

I love to sample new barbecue sauces and frequently pick up different ones when I travel, so I usually have several open bottles in the refrigerator. For this chicken, I mix three different bottled sauces together and it always tastes great. Right now, two of my favorite sauces are Cookies from Iowa and Mickey’s from South Carolina.

Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore are cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. They have published 11 cookbooks and thousands of recipes. They are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier and blog at . Email them at

Grandpa’s Smoked Barbecued Chicken

Makes 4 servings

Wood chips, preferably cherry, apple or pecan

8 chicken legs or thighs

All-purpose barbecue seasoning, preferably Kansas City’s Cowtown, to taste

1/2 to 1 cup barbecue sauce

Soak the wood chips in water, to cover, for a few hours. Drain the chips. Wrap the chips in a heavy-duty aluminum foil packet. Poke holes in the top of the packet.

Preheat a gas grill on high until the grill is hot. Place the wood packet on the flavor bars in the grill. Cover the grill and allow the smoke to build.

Season the chicken generously on one side with all-purpose barbecue seasoning. Reduce the temperature in the grill to 225 degrees. Place the chicken on the grate and cover the grill. Allow the chicken to smoke about 1 to 1  1/2 hours, maintaining 225 degrees in the grill. Turn the chicken every 20 minutes. If the chicken is cooking too quickly, reduce the temperature in the grill slightly. Cook until the chicken is brown and done, the skin is just beginning to pull away from the bone, and a meat thermometer registers a minimum of 165 degrees.

Brush the sauce over the top of each piece. Remove the chicken from the grill and place sauce-side-down on a platter. Brush the top of each chicken piece with more sauce. Allow the chicken to stand 2 to 3 minutes before serving.