1. Place salt and sugar in a large bowl. Pour in two cups of hot water and mix until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the oil along with 6 cups of ice water so that the water cools off and won’t cook the chicken as it brines. Place the chicken thighs into the brine and soak for about two hours at room temperature.
2. While the chicken is brining, prepare your “smoker.” You will be using a knife to create air vents in one of the aluminum pot lids for smoke to escape. Exercise caution when cutting the holes, as the aluminum edges can be very sharp. (I wore a pair of gardening gloves to prevent any cuts.)
3. Carefully cut an X shape in the raised center area of one of the aluminum lids. Separate the edges and fold them under to create a large hole in the center of the lid. Next, create about eight to 10 V shapes around the edges of the lid, rolling back the aluminum in each one to create a triangular hole and folding it over the edges.
4. Double up the two pots and place the paper towel sheets inside the inner pot. Place the lid with the holes in it upside down over the pots, covering the paper towels. Using the knife again, poke about 20 holes, about one-third inch (one centimeter) long, into the bottom of the 10-inch (26-centimeter) round pan, twisting the knife inside to widen each hole slightly.
5. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry. Sprinkle spices over both sides of the chicken and place into the 10-inch pan. Place the pan on top of the upside down lid and cover with the second, intact lid, making sure that the V-shaped holes are at least partially uncovered so that the fire will have the oxygen it needs to burn. Your smoker is now ready to perform its magic!
6. Take your smoker outdoors to a well-ventilated area and place onto a concrete surface, such as your porch or driveway or even some cinderblocks. Poke a long lighter through one of the V-shaped holes and carefully light the paper towels. Make sure to have a cup of water handy just in case of emergency. Don’t be alarmed, as at first the fire will flare up and may even shoot out of the holes, but after a minute or two it will die down to a smolder and the smoking will begin!
7. Allow the chicken to smoke for five to 10 minutes. The longer it smokes, the stronger the smoky flavor. Remove the pan carefully from the smoker. Pour a few cups of cold water inside the smoker to put out any remaining flames and discard.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).
9. Transfer the chicken to a fresh baking pan and drizzle with a bit of honey. Bake covered for 20–25 minutes, until done. Allow to rest for three to four minutes and slice.