Monday, December 11, 2017

Friday is for BBQ Chicken

From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always had the smell of BBQ’d chicken in the air on Friday afternoon. When I was little, I’d walk home from school and on Friday’s when I got within 2 blocks of my house, the aroma of BBQ’d chicken would quickly envelope my senses as I neared the house. My mom used to BBQ chicken every Friday like clockwork. The old grill she used was a mammoth piece of work that looked like a steel roll-top desk. Under the roll top there were a pair of heavy stainless steel grates above a large rectangular coal box that adjusted up and down using a crank on the side. My mom’s BBQ was particularly smokey because her marinade had a lot of oil in it. There was also red wine, and the spices for Caesar salad dressing. When the oily chicken hit the grates, the flames would explode upward to meet it. The roll top would slam down to limit the flames, but aromatic smoke would billow out. Turning the chicken was challenging, and inevitably, some would char.
I also ‘stink up the neighborhood’ every Friday with BBQ’d chicken, but I make it differently than Mom, and my Weber is better at flame control than the old roll top. This Friday I offset smoked the chicken. In the morning I dismantled (my kid’s early interpretation of dismembered) two chickens and put some oil and a light rub. If I’m smoking chickens, I find a light coating of oil keeps the skin from getting leathery, and keeps it edible. When I grill chicken, I don’t oil the skin.

My first step is to light a half canister of charcoal in the grill. I dump the white-hot coals on one side, and place my wood of choice (in this case, cherry) on the coals. I cover the area under the chicken with foil to somewhat control the drippings from coating the inside of the grill. Cover the grill and let it heat up for 5 minutes, then scrape down the grate and apply some oil to the grate with an oil soaked paper towel and tongs.

This is two 5 pound chickens. Place the chicken skin side up strategically–the backs, thighs, and legs are closest to the coals, with the wings and breasts further away. Drop the lid, making sure your top and bottom vents are open, and come back in 45 minutes.

Everything is basically cooked at this point, but the skin is not evenly browned. I turn the backs, thighs, legs, and wings at this point, and let the chicken continue to smoke for another 20 minutes. I don’t turn the breasts because they only have skin on the top, and the way I prepare the breasts is I remove the ribs and sterna from the pieces to give an easier eating experience (and really, it’s because that’s what Mom does). If I didn’t remove the ribs, I’d probably flip the breasts.

There you have it–all the chicken gets served and you get to sit back and enjoy the compliments on your latest delicious masterpiece. This chicken is so smokey good and juicy it doesn’t need a drop of sauce. The smokey flavor intensifies after it’s been refrigerated.

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