A very simple recipe for grilling delicious whole chicken in less time than it would take to roast a whole chicken. Faster than beer can chicken, too! The results are juicy and delicious!
Spatchcock the chicken. What's that? It's a term that is thought to have originated in 18th century Ireland. It means "to butterfly". Basically, you cut the backbone out of the chicken so you can open it up and press it flat. (You can read about the word by clicking here.) These pictures show how it is done:
1) The chicken should be breast down. This means the legs are under the bird, and the wings are on top. 2) Start cutting just beside the backbone. You can start from either end, but in this photo, we turned the bird so the wings are towards us. 3) Cut through the ribs right along the backbone. 4) Here, the cut has been made all the way from front to back. 5) Start the second cut just on the other side of the backbone. 6) Here is the bird with the backbone completely cut out. 7) Spread the bird open and turn it over. 8) Press down on the bird until it lies relatively flat. Congratulations!! You have just spatchcocked a chicken!
Stabilize your egg at 375°. (You may wish to use a hotter temperature for crispier skin, although we have found the path to crispy skin lies in letting the bird sit, uncovered, for 24-48 hours in your regrigerator.) Place two packets of BBQr's Delight Orange Wood Pellets (follow their directions on the package to prepare the little foil packets) on the fire. You should be able to find these at Ace Hardware and Wal*Mart. After they start smoking, place the chicken on the grid, skin side up.
As you can see in the photo, we use a raised grid and no drip pan or barrier. This is a direct cook. We did this to make access to the chicken easier, but we've heard that this helps with grease flameups, etc. (On the other hand, if you find your bird getting smokey from burning fat, you can always rig a drip pan beneath the bird to catch the drippings. Cook 1 to 1½ hours. You are then done. There is no need to turn the chicken over.
If you are suspicious that the bird might not be done, be sure to use the standard methods for determining if poultry is done. Does the leg move freely? Do the juices run clear? Does an instant-read thermometer read 160° in the breast and 180° in the thigh?
Notes, Special Instructions:
Some folks advocate removing the keel bone after you flatten the bird. This is sometimes easy peasy, but sometimes it isn't. We don't bother. If you are going to remove the keel bone, you might as well cut the bird in half.
You can also rub the chicken with your favorite rub. We have used McCormick's Montreal Roasted Garlic Chicken seasoning and their Montreal Steak Seasoning, but our favorite is Dizzy Pig Raising The Steaks Canadian style steak rub. Yes, we use a steak rub on chicken. In the photo above, one bird has the rub, and one bird is plain.
There is no need to brine this chicken unless you are interested in adding flavor to the bird. It will come out juicier than any rotisserie chicken you have ever had, so there is no point in brining for juiciness.
Like we mentioned above, if you desire a crispier skin, you can leave the bird in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours, uncovered, to dry the skin. The skin will start to look transparent and funky, but trust us. Oil the skin before applying your rub and that will aid in the crispiness also.
If you use smallish chickens, you should be able to get 3 birds on the large egg. You may find that the egg's temperature drops and takes a while to come back up to your cooking temperature. You may wish to open the air vents to help the fire get hot again, and then close them back up to their previous setting after the fire has returned to the proper temperature.
When the bird is done, to separate the chicken into individual pieces, just use a large chef's knife down the middle to cut the bird into two halves. Then you can cut the legs and wings off if you so desire.
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