Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Smoked Pheasant (Bacon Wrapped)

Pheasants are only one letter away from being a true working-class bird (Pheasant -> Peasant... get it?  See what I did there?).  Honestly, pheasants do work for a living.  They're wild, they typically eat swamp grass, seeds, and buds, and they don't have any fat on them, whatsoever.  They are a beautiful bird, however, and they do present quite a challenge to hunters so; many a home-cook has been presented with a clutch of these birds to "cook for the family meal." 

Since plucking the bird is rather time consuming, most hunters simply peel the skin off.  As the cook,  you're presented with a skinless, super-lean, fairly small bird, and you're expected to turn it into a moist and delicious "Family Dinner" masterpiece?  That's a challenge!

You Will Need:

  • 2 whole pheasants
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 cups maple syrup
  • 8 whole strips of bacon, cut in half 

We'll start this process by brining the birds.  Brining is easy, but finding space in your refrigerator for a huge bucket of soaking birds is not.  So... Start by dissolving the salt, sugar, and syrup in the water, and then pour half of the liquid, each, into a gallon-sized ziplock bag.  Add one whole, skinned pheasant to the bag, squeeze all of the air out, and zip it up!

Now, empty out your vegetable crisper drawer (who needs vegetables, anyway?), and drop the bagged and brining birds into the drawer.  Why?  Because if one of those bags springs a leak, you don't want birdy brine juice leaking all over your fridge!  I did 6 pheasants at once, and this method worked very well for me.

Walk away, and leave the birds in there to soak for 24 hours.  This should tenderize and season the pheasants, and give their skinless bodies a fighting chance while they're in the smoker (or oven).

Once 24 hours has gone by, take the birds out and pat them dry.  Rub them down with olive oil and lay them out on a nice cutting board so you can wrap them with bacon!  Bacon will add fat, flavor, and moisture to these bare-muscled birds.

Wrap them however you like, as long as you achieve maximum coverage of the bare muscle with some good fatty bacon!  My method uses 8 1/2-slices of bacon, and it covers the legs, thighs, and breasts of the bird.  Get them all wrapped and then sprinkle some BBQ seasoning on the outside, if you like.

Preheat your smoker (or oven) to 250 degrees, and line up the birds.  Caution, when these birds hit the 160 degree mark, they're done!  Every second after that means time spent drying out so... use a probe and pull those birds as soon as they touch 160.  It took mine just 3 hours to get there.

In my case, the hunter who successfully nabbed these birds told me, "The best way to enjoy pheasant is with a cocktail in your hand, as you leisurely pick the meat from the bones and eat it."  I won't argue with the "cocktail" part of his method, but I'm not really a "picker" when it comes to birds.  I'd prefer to cut them into their respective parts... legs, breasts, etc.  So that's what I did.

They were quite flavorful, I must say.  The brine did its job... they were a little bit "chewier" than chicken (for example), but I don't think I could have tenderized them any further, without stewing or braising them, and I really wanted to try cooking them in the pit.  I'm anxious to hear your opinions!  My wife ate it... and she's picky!  So; I consider it a "thumbs up" success!

The Twelve Days of Christmas (BBQ Edition)

There are so many birds found in the list of gifts from the "12 days of Christmas" song, Partridges, Geese, French Hens, Turtle Doves, etc... When I recently cooked six pheasants on my pit, I said, "If 6 Smoky Pheasants isn't in the list, it should be!"  Then, my friend Rayna challenged me to write the "12 Foodbreeze Days of Christmas," and by golly, it seemed like a good idea so... Here's my song, complete with links to all of the recipes!  Sing it to the tune of the original "12 Days of Christmas," (obviously), and enjoy a recipe or two!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Pit-boss cooked for me:

Eleven Pots of Gumbo...
Ten Racks of Spare Ribs...
Nine Crispy Ducklings...
Eight Roasted Turkeys...
Seven Whole Pastramis...
Six Smoky Pheasants...
FIIIIIIVE Bone-in Hams...
Four Cornish Hens...
Three Beef Ribs...

And a Brisket for you and for meeee!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!  Roll that smoke!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

Ahhh, pie.  Is there anything more amazing than your favorite pie?  Americans have gone absolutely crazy, inventing ridiculous designer pies for all sorts of occasions.  I tend to enjoy the classic pies, Apple, Blueberry, etc, but once in awhile, a modern designer pie grabs my attention and I think, "Now, THAT sounds delicious!"

With that being said, I'll offer a more modern designer pie, "Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie," or what my friend Mark calls, "Bourbo-Choco-Peco-Madness!"

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan

A quick word about pie crust; While I believe that a properly homemade pie crust is superior in flakyness, tenderness, and appearance, I do not believe that it is superior enough to go through the tedious process of creating one from scratch.  In my own personal blind taste tests, I pick the homemade crust every time, but I'm simply not prepared to invest the time and effort to "cube cold butter" and to "rest the dough in the refrigerator," etc.  This recipe calls for "Frozen 9-inch deep dish pie crusts" and I believe the filling is so fantastic, that nobody (except for perhaps your Grandmother) will mention your lack of pie crust effort.

For the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan pie, you will need:
  • 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 Cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/4 Cup bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 Cups Pecan Halves, divided
  • 3/4 Cup dark chocolate baking chips, divided

A word of caution about this particular recipe... Pecan pies are notorious for their ability to look perfectly set and awesome on the outside, while staying unset and gooey on the inside.  You'll notice the small amount of flour and the extra egg yolk to bring some protein to the mix that should help solve this problem.  Bread flour has a lot more protein strings than regular flour, so use it if you can.  In any case, you'll want to pay particularly close attention to the quantity of the ingredients here, do not use more or less than what is described, and be sure to bake it the full amount of time.

Preheat your oven to 350, and take the frozen pie crust out of the freezer to thaw.  Spray some "Pam" inside of your measuring cup, so the syrup will pour out quickly and easily.  Dump your eggs (and yolks) into the bowl, turn on your mixer and get the party started... When the eggs are thoroughly mixed and bright yellow, measure exactly 1/2 cup of dark syrup and 1/2 cup of light syrup into your mixing bowl. While the mixer is turning and burning, add the bourbon, and then add the dark brown sugar, a little bit at a time.  Go slowly, you want it all to disolve.  Drink a shot of the Bourbon in the meantime, you know, for... "fortification and courage."  Sprinkle in the flour.  Pour in the butter and a pinch of salt.  Turn off the mixer and use a silicon spatula to mix in 1/2 of the pecans and chocolate chips.

Pour the mix into the pie crust and then sprinkle or decorate the top with the remaining pecans and chocolate chips.  Place the pie onto a cookie sheet in case it boils over, and then pop it into the oven for 55 minutes to an hour.  Remove the pie and let it set up for another hour or so, before parking it in the fridge.  Here's my before and after pics of the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan pie:

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Garlic Butter Shrimp on the Grill

Let's talk about shrimp!  There are a handful of super simple tips that will transform your shrimp dish into something delicious and memorable that will have your guests asking, "How did you do that?"


Buying Shrimp

  1. There are almost as many ways to buy these little buggars as there are to cook them.  Fresh?  Frozen?  Pre-cooked?  Shelled?  Beheaded?  Big?  Small?  What do the numbers mean??  If you're planning to follow a recipe and to cook shrimp for your crowd, do NOT buy shrimp that is already cooked... I see this happen all the time.  People go home and cook shrimp that were cooked/steamed at the store and I can't imagine the rock-hard, dried out, rubberized shrimp pucks that result. Here are my tips:
  2. Make sure the label says "Uncooked" (if you're buying frozen), or make sure you get FRESH shrimp from a trusted fish-monger.
  3. Get shrimp that just a little bigger than you want to serve.  Shrimp shrink a bit when they cook, and they tend to curl up.  I prefer bigger ones, number 9s or maybe 10s (that's 9 or 10 to a pound).  They're easier to handle, clean, etc.
  4. Unless you want to make your own seafood stock, get them as "pre-cleaned" as you can.  Nobody wants to spend the time cleaning, de-shelling, de-pooping, and disposing of shrimp shells, legs, tails, and other nonsense.

Prepping Shrimp

  1. When you get them home, take their shells off and give them a good rinse in cold water. 
  2. Place all of the empty shells and other "shrimp trash" into a ziplock back and park it in the freezer.  You can use it to make stock OR, you can just pitch it into the garbage on trash day.  Keeping it bagged and frozen will eliminate the odor, flies, and maggots that will collect in your trash bin if you just toss them in, otherwise.
  3. Place them in a bowl with ice and water and park them in the fridge until it's time to cook them.
  4. Shrimp benefit greatly from a good marinade but remember that acid in citrus can start to "cook" them a bit, so don't use pure lime juice (for example) without some olive oil or something to dilute it.
  5. Shrimp hate room temperatures, but the bacteria in shrimp love it.  Keep them cold until it's time to cook and serve.

Cooking Shrimp

  1. Above all else, remember cook quickly (3 minutes, on average) and they're best enjoyed hot so... they're usually the last thing to hit the grill before its time to serve dinner.
  2. While shrimp kabobs are certainly delicious, great care should be taken to watch them.  Shrimp are happiest then they cook in a liquid because they can go from "savory juicy" to "charcoal dry" quicker than you can pop open a new beer...

Easy Grilled Shrimp 


In a bowl, dump in your shrimp and drizzle some olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper all over them.  Stir them around so they all get oiled up for the party.  Take out a "grillable" steel pan and spread a generous blob of butter all over the bottom of it, as if it were a big steel piece of toast.  Pour your shrimp into the buttered pan and set that pan directly over the fire on your grill.

Watch those shrimp!  Do not close the lid, do not go anywhere, do not fetch a refreshing new beer... stand there and watch!  The butter will quickly melt and things will start bubbling and steaming and sizzling and changing colors and you need to be there to stir and mix things around as it happens!  When the shrimp turn from translucent blue to a bright orange, you only have a minute or so left to go.

Ok, the shrimp in this picture are now done!  Total time?  Maybe 4 minutes.  My fire was HOT!  It's now time to take these off the heat and to serve them.  Shrimp don't benefit from a "rest" like beef or pork, and any attempt to "keep them warm" will just cook them further and dry them out so... pull them off the heat, drop the pan onto a trivet, and tell your guests to "dig in!"

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Smoked Prime Rib

Sometimes, a fly needs the sledgehammer.  Every now and then, you need to assert your dominance in the party world by "slam dunking" a goal/event with so much authority, that people will talk about it for years to come.  I'm talking about something that shakes up your dinner-party patrons with such thunder and trembling, that hosts and hostesses throughout the County will hesitate to even try to plan a menu for a long, long time! You've put this decision off, long enough.  It's time to plunk down $175 (or so) for an AMAZING piece of meat that will send your guests home in a food coma so strong, they may elect to just have a nap on the sidewalk before they ever make it to their car....

I'm talking about Prime Rib, but I'm taking it to the next level!  What about Hickory Smoked Prime Rib??

Don't let the price tag scare you.  Think about it this way, you'd pay $25 for a 16oz cut of great Prime Rib in a restaurant, wouldn't you?  Then why not pay $8 per pound and cook the whole roast, YOUR way?!  When it comes to restaurant quality BBQ, Prime Rib is one of the most expensive hunks of beef out there, but it's also one of the easiest things to cook, so, why not give it a shot?

You Will Need:

  • One Whole Boneless Rib Roast (Mine was 20lbs)
  • 1/4 Cup Bourbon
  • 1/2 Cup "Thick" Worcestershire Sauce
  • Beef Rub:
    • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
    • 1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
    • 1/4 Cup Black Pepper
    • 1/4 Cup Smoked Paprika
    • 1/4 Cup Fresh Chili Powder
Ok.  Have a look at the end of the roast you're thinking about purchasing.  Is it well-marbled?  Here's the thing... You'll save some money by buying a "Select" or a "Choice" grade of rib-roast, as opposed to USDA Prime.  You want some good marbling (fat=flavor, right?) and you don't want to pay through the roof to get it so, have a look at as many as you can and get the best one you can afford.  The one pictured here was "Prime" but I've seen Choice cuts that had better marbling.  It all depends on the quality of cattle that were graded by the USDA's rep on processing day.

Once you've made your selection, rinse it with cold water, pat it dry, and lay it out onto your work surface.  Take some cotton butcher's twine (free from your local butcher, or available at a hardware store) and truss it up.  (This video should help, if  it's your first "tie job!").  Do NOT trim it first, leave every bit of fat and goodness that came with this roast, as part of the package!
Mix your Bourbon with the Worcestershire sauce.  Resist the urge to just drink it, pour yourself some of the Bourbon in a separate glass for "fortification" and keep the faith!  Pour the mixture all over the roast and rub it in.  Rub, rub, rub, massaging this juicy goodness into all of the cracks and crevices!  Note where the rib bones used to be on the underside of the roast, make sure you get some juicy goodness in there, too!
Now, mix all of the ingredients together for the rub, and shake it all over the roast.  Don't be shy!  Shake and turn and shake and turn and pat and rub and really go to town on this bad-boy!

Now, wrap the whole thing in a tight cocoon of plastic wrap.  Use a lot of layers and when you think it's enough, wrap on a few more.  I find that it's easiest to take the roll of plastic out of the box, and to recruit a helper for this step.
Stash your wrapped and spiced rib roast into the fridge for at least 12 hours.  I always do this the day before dinner...
On the big day, pull the roast out of the fridge and leave it on the counter, out of the reach of your dogs or any curious children!  Leave yourself a note, to remind you to do this... My smart-phone beeped at me early this morning to tell me, but my wife prefers paper notes!  The idea is to let the roast come up to about 60 degrees before you start cooking it.  If you don't, the outside will dry out and over-cook before the inside is done... you want a nice even and consistent temperature, consistency, and appearance throughout the roast when you slice it, so this step is super-critical!

Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees.  I used a combination of hickory chunks and lump charcoal for this.  You could do this in an oven, but you would obviously lose the smoke flavor.

Lay on the roast, and insert a probe thermometer so that the tip finds its way to the center of the meat.  I can't stress this enough... do NOT rely on that droning Neanderthal urge in your head that is telling you, "You'll just know when it's done."  You won't.  You just spent almost $200 for this piece of meat, spend another $15 or so for an oven-safe probe thermometer that will tell you EXACTLY when it's done!!
Now... you wait.  You'll wait about 4 hours for this beast to come up to 128 degrees.  Waiting sucks, so, during your wait, go find the right bottle of wine!  For my money, you can't beat an excellent bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to match a Prime Rib.  Find one (or two.  maybe a case.), bring it home, open it, let it breathe, and sample it.  Sample it again while you check the temperature... When it touches 128, get it out of the smoker/oven immediately!!  Wrap it in foil, tightly, and let it sit on the counter, resting, for another 30 minutes.

WOOT!  Unwrap it and slide it onto your cutting board!  Three cheers and a tiger for you, you did it!  It's all over now but for the slicin'  The end-cuts will be closer to Medium or Medium Well, so save those for the people who appreciate that sort of thing.  The biggest prize of all is the cut from the very center... a Medium-Rare thing of beauty that would impress King Henry VIII!

Behold!  The Center-Cut!!  Long live the King!  Slide this onto a plate and dust off your hands.  Bask, as your subjects look at you as though you were conjured up by a sorcerer to do things to a cow that mere mortals can't even comprehend!

You're Welcome!  :D

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Peach Crumble Custard Pie!

For my money, few desserts are as impressive as homemade pie!  There are so many different acts in this particular circus that need to be perfectly balanced in order for the show to meet its potential for "spectacular!"  The crust should be tender, yet flaky... The filling should be sweet, but not overly so.  Fruit filling should be moist and naturally sweet without a gummy texture, or an artificial "pectin-like" flavor.  This, "Peach Crumble Custard Pie" brings all of that to the table!  Soft, yet crunchy.. Fruity, and slightly sweet.  The perfect "Crème brûlée marries Peach Cobbler and has a baby" sort of thing!

You Will Need:

  • The Pie:
    • About a dozen small fresh peaches 
    • 1 9" Deep-Dish
  • The Custard
    • An Egg
    • 1 Cup of Heavy Cream
    • 1.5 Tbsp Flour
    • 1 Tsp Vanilla
    • 2/3 Cup Sugar
  • The Crumble
    • 1/2 Cup of all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 Cup butter, melted but not "hot"

Now; this recipe is easy, but it takes time and love.  If you're short on time, pick another pie; do NOT take shortcuts with this one!  If you're short on "love," well, you should eat a slice of someone else's pie and then see a therapist... If you're ready, preheat your oven to 425, grab your cutting board, set out your frozen pie crust to thaw, and let's do this thing!

There is probably not another fruit in the world as complicated as a peach.  If you were to pick 3 different peaches from the same tree on the same day, they'd all have a different flavor and texture.  Canned peaches are consistent, but they don't really taste like fresh peaches, do they?  Not even close!  They taste like "peach syrup" or pectin or... I don't know, but they don't taste like fresh peaches, that's for sure. 

This recipe calls for a dozen small peaches, but you won't need all of them.  You'll only need the good ones, so be prepared to taste them!  Peal the skin off of each peach, then slice the flesh in half and peel it off of the pit.  Now, slice each half into the crescent peach slices we're all familiar with and taste one!  Is it sweet, delectable and peachy?  If so, push all of the slices into a bowl!  If it's a little "bitter" or "blah" or just not "peachy" enough, then scrape all of the slices into a compost bin, or into some breakfast oats and move along to the next peach!

Eventually, you'll have enough slices of the perfect peaches to fill your pie crust!  Stop for a moment to take stock; what you have in front of you is an amazing thing!  Fresh fruit, none of the overly sweet syrupy "ick" to clutter nature's perfection, and you have it in a PIE!  Granted, it's a rapidly thawing frozen pie shell, but... you're still MILES ahead of your competition at this point!  Wash your hands, pour some wine, and gird your loins for the custard,  The messy, sticky, peachy, juice-ridden, counter-top messing moments are behind you!

Toss an egg into a large bowl and beat it to death with a good whisk.  Beat it some more.  You want a nice bright yellow uniform egg to start your custard with.  Add the Vanilla and the sugar and beat, beat, beat until you have a nice, smooth consistency.  I probably could have used my KitchenAid mixer, but I wasn't in the mood to wash it, so... I grabbed the whisk.  Lightly sprinkle the flour on top and beat it some more.  The flour is here to help thicken the custard so the pie will stand up to slicing so, don't forget it!  Add the heavy cream, a dollop at a time, and mix it slowly with the egg batter.  Your goal is to dissolve all of the sugar and to come up with a smooth custard.  You'll know its ready when you scrape your whisk across the bottom of the bowl and you don't get any sugar residue sticking to the wires of your whisk.  Set the custard aside....

Now, "Let's get crumbly!"  Mix the 1/2 Cup flour with the brown sugar, using a whisk, until you have a homogeneous mixture that looks like beach sand.  Slowly drizzle in the warm melted butter and keep whisking away until you have a nice brown crumbly mixture of heavenly goodness.

Warm heavenly goodness looks like this.  It should feel like wet sand, and it should crumble, easily, when you use your fingers to break it up.

Ready for assembly?  Slowly pour the custard over your peaches.  Do this in batches, allowing time for the custard to work its way down among the peaches... You may not need all of the custard, just keep pouring and settling until the mix comes up just blow the edge of the pie-crust.  Now, grab a handful of the crumble and "season" the pie with it!  Like a little crumble?  Add what you want... Like a lot of crumble?  Add it all!

Now put the pie onto a cookie sheet (I line my sheets with a silicon sheet or with foil, to catch any spill-over), and send it into the middle of your 425 degree oven.  Shut the door, and IMMEDIATELY drop the temperature to 350.  This initial heat blast will help brown the top of the pie and the edges of the crust, without burning the custard later.  Set your timer for 45 minutes and give the pie a "peek-a-loo!"  It should be golden brown all over, and the middle should show a little bit of jiggle (but not too much) when you gently shake the corner of the cookie sheet.

Cool the pie for slicin' and you're ready to go.  Some like whipping cream on this pie, but the custard is "cream heavy" so I think it stands alone!  Either way, it's an awesome way to do a peach pie.  When people ask you the secret?  Just say, "I found some good peaches!"

Monday, June 20, 2016

Roast Chicken... ON THE GRILL!

"I can roast chicken on my grill?" Yes.  You can roast your chicken on the grill, sparing yourself the anxiety of drying out your over-grilled chicken, or poisoning your guests with your under-cooked chicken...  Let's do this!

You will need:

  • 1 large roasting chicken (5-7lbs)
  • Chicken Rub - equal parts of:
    • Paprika
    • Brown Sugar
    • Kosher Salt
    • Coarsely Ground Pepper
    • Chili Powder

First things first; we need to separate this big chicken.  You know how to cut a chicken apart into its representative 8 pieces, right?  No?  Well, there's one way to learn!  If you're squeamish about this, get over it.  You'll save yourself some money and you'll learn a "life skill" that you can pass on to your kids!  So, get yourself a cutting board, some good kitchen shears, and a boning knife...

Rinse the bird in cold water, and dry it off with some paper towels.  Lay her down with her back up and her butt facing you.  She looks "sad," doesn't she?  Don't let it bother you, she won't feel a thing.
Pick up the shears and cut out her spine.  While you're cutting, stay focused and keep the cutting edge of the shears as close to the backbone as you can.  If you slide out and away from the backbone, you'll find yourself cutting across the ribs and that takes more hand-strength that you're probably willing to part with so, aim for the vertebrae and you'll be fine.
With the backbone gone, it will be easy to flip her over and spread her apart.  Spin her around so her butt is facing away from you.  Now, with the flat of your palm, press firmly down across the breasts until you hear a "pop" or a dull "thud."  You want to break the keel bone loose (more on this in a bit).  With her breast bone now broken, go ahead and cut the leg/thigh quarters free.
Ok, take a timeout and toss the shears into the sink (you're done with them, now) and wash/dry your hands.  Pick up the knife with your dominant hand and tell your brain that, "This is my knife hand.  It will not let go of the knife to touch the chicken.  My other hand is now my chicken-hand.  It will do the dirty work!"  There are no bones or cartilage here to slow your knife down, so it's an easy cut to take the leg/thigh quarters.
Pick a leg/thigh section and flip it over.  Pinch and feel for the joint.  A good sharp boning knife will "sing" through cartilage, but struggle through bone so... look for the white cartilage in the join and slice right through it.  Repeat for the other leg quarter and "Presto!"  You have 4 of your eight pieces done!
Back to the breast. Flip it over and use your thumb to get under the keel bone.  This is the big triangular bone that separates the breasts.  Work your thumb under it to loosen it a bit, and use your knife to work it loose and out of the bird.  This is your toughest cut and may require some practice.  Don't worry, you'll get there!  Open a beer with your clean "knife hand" and be prepared to celebrate!
With the keel bone out, you can now split the breast into its two respective half.  Easy-peasy.
Last cut?  Separation of the wing.  Who doesn't like the chicken wing?  Don't bag this step in favor of cooking a "breast/wing" quarter.  Just pick the breast up by the wing and let gravity show you where the joint is.  Feel for the cartilage (again) and slice right through the joint, taking the wing away.  There's more meat on the breast-side of the wing than you think, don't be afraid to cut a little deeper than it looks.

Now, take a quick break, toss the chicken pieces into a bowl and wash everything... the board, your knives, your counter top, and your hands.  Drink your celebratory beer and smile because the fun part is starting!

Light up your charcoal and pre-heat your grill.  Shove all of the charcoal against the side of your grill that draws air.  You want it burning nice and hot and a breath of fresh air coming into your pit will keep it blazing.
Close the lid and let it warm up.  Then go inside and massage your chicken!  Pour a solid glop of olive oil into your chicken bowl and rub it in.  Then shake on a generous amount of your chicken-rub.  Stir and flip the pieces over so they all get a nice coating.  Don't be shy!
O.K.  When chicken meats fire, normally you have to watch closely for flare-ups and hot spots and burning of chicken flesh, etc.  Not today!  Lay your chicken out as shown, larger pieces toward the heat, smaller pieces in the rear.  Notice the "Flow" of what's going on here... air comes in from the right, charcoal heats up, hot air moves over the chicken, and then out through the pit and up and out through the stack. 

Close the lid and wait.  This is harder than you think!  Your brain is screaming, "IT'S GOING TO BURN!! FLIP IT OVER, THERE'S FIRE IN THERE!"  I get it.  You've grilled a hundred chickens in your life, burnt at least one piece from every single one, and you KNOW that chicken fat breeds flame.  Not to worry, things will be fine, just make CERTAIN that the charcoal is NOT directly underneath the bird.

For a chicken this size, it took just a bit longer than an hour for everything to hit the target temperature.  I would wait for thirty minutes and then lift the lid and use a probe thermometer to check your progress.  Check it every ten minutes after that.  The larger pieces in the front deflect just a bit of the heat as it moves to the left.  Therefore, the smaller pieces don't overcook!  Everything should be ready at the same time.  When the breasts on the front-line touch 160 degrees, pull everything off and wrap/cover with foil for about ten minutes.

Results?  Crispy skin... super juicy meat... tasty heat and sweet spices... I touched mine with a hint of my favorite BBQ sauce and "Viola!"  You have created restaurant quality roast chicken, BBQ style!