Makes 12 servings


  • 3 to 4 oak, hickory or pecan wood chunks
  • 1 cup firmly packed piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) (about one 8-ounce cone)*
  • 1 Tbsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. table salt
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (3 3/4- to 4-pound) whole chickens


    Soak wood chunks in water and cover for 1 hour.

    Meanwhile, combine piloncillo and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub chickens with piloncillo mixture and let stand 30 minutes.

    Prepare smoker according to manufacturer's directions. Place water pan in smoker; add water to depth of fill line. Bring internal temperature between 225 and 250 and maintain temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.

    Drain wood chunks and place on coals. Place chickens on food-cooking grate; close smoker. Smoke 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of thighs registers 165.

    Remove chickens from smoker and let stand 20 minutes before slicing.

    Note: Piloncillo is a raw sugar made from reduced cane juice. It's sold molded into cone shapes and is sometimes labeled panela. To measure, place the cone in a zip-top plastic freezer bag and pound it with a meat mallet to break it apart.

    *Dark brown sugar may be substituted for piloncillo.

    Excerpted from United Tastes of Texas: Authentic Recipes from All Corners of the Lone Star State, by Jessica Dupuy. Copyright © 2016 Time Inc. Books. Reprinted with permission from Oxmoor House, an imprint of Time Inc. Books. All rights reserved.

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