Two Techniques To Grill Whole Chicken
Chicken is my nations most popular meat however when it comes to the barbecue it’s probably less popular because people are more concerned to ensure that the meat is properly cooked. I’ve known some even to pre-cook chicken in the microwave first but this really isn’t necessary if you follow the basic rules that I’ve set out before.
Just to re-iterate one point when using a charcoal barbecue grill, always give the coals time to settle before starting to cook (about 45 minutes) because despite chicken being described as a lean meat, the fat that is under the skin mobilises very quickly and makes for serious flames. You don’t get beautiful barbecue chicken with a crispy skin but raw chicken with what looks like an dirty oily coating, best described as a health hazard.
So when it comes to how to barbecue chicken there are essentially four different styles, rotisserie, spatchcock, smoker or roast, the fist two are the ones I’m going to concentrate on being specifically for the grill. Hopefully smoked chicken is self explanatory and roast chicken is great in a kamado ceramic BBQ but maybe that’s for another day.
Rotisserie is when you barbecue chicken on a spit roaster and rotate it over the heat so effectively grilling and continually turning to ensure that the chicken is cooked evenly all over. Rotisserie is probably the most difficult way to barbecue chicken because it’s not so easy to tell when the chicken is done and it’s important to ensure that the inner cavity is cooked. This means that it needs to be cooked well and for longer than if you were roasting the bird but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be dry. The secret is to ensure that your barbecue chicken is basted every 15 minutes with the juices in the drip tray. Check for good cooking either by using a BBQ thermometer or simply stabbing the thigh with a skewer and when the juices run clear (no blood) then it’s done. If using a barbecue thermometer then you’re looking for a breast temp of 165°F and 180°F in the thigh and wing.
This is my preferred way of how to barbecue chicken because it’s relatively quick (about 45 – 50 minutes) and because the cavity is exposed, you’re guaranteed to have the inside well cooked. The challenge is in the preparation because you’ve got to cut the chicken down either the backbone or the breast bone and this is best done with shears or a sharp knife. When using a knife I tend to cut the breast bone because it’s easier. When you finished cutting, flatten the bird and place it in a BBQ basket and then you’re ready for the grill, 25 minutes each side and then your done. TIP – less fat drips from the inside of the chicken so cook this side first.
Both the above are essentially grill techniques and to simply turn these into full blown barbecue chicken recipes then simply season with salt and pepper. This will add flavor but most importantly the salt will help crisp up the skin – not the most healthy part of the chicken but certainly tasty. If you then want to enhance the recipe then break out your favorite homemade barbecue sauce.