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!

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