25th Jun 2016
Yield?Makes 1 chicken, enough to serve 2-4
Prep time?15 minutes
Smoking time?1? – 1? hours
Fuel?With poultry, I like fruitwood, such as apple or cherry wood chips – enough for 1? hours of smoking.
Gear?When smoking on a gas grill, you’ll want a mesh or tube smoker, a smoker box, or a cast-iron skillet filled with wood chips and lit charcoal; butcher’s string; an instant-read thermometer
Shop?As always, buy organic or local farm-raised chicken when possible. Use your favourite commercial rub.
What else?Want a super easy dinner? Place potatoes, sweet potatoes, or other root vegetables (quartered lengthwise) with a couple of quartered shallots or a handful of garlic cloves (skins on) in a single layer in a 9×13-inch aluminum foil drip pan. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place the pan under the chicken as it spit-roasts. The vegetables will roast in the dripping chicken fat. Stir from time to time so the veggies brown evenly. Amazing.
The best way I know to cook a whole chicken is spit-roasting. Or is it smoking? This dish delivers the best of both methods – the self-basting, moisture-retaining, skin-crisping benefits of the rotisserie coupled with the flavour-boosting powers of wood smoke. The easiest way to do it is on a charcoal-burning kettle grill with a rotisserie ring (that would be a Weber). Alternatively, use a straight wood-burning rotisserie or a gas grill rotisserie, plus a smoking device.
1 whole chicken (1.6-1.8kg)
3 tbsp barbecue rub, or to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Set up your grill for spit-roasting following the manufacturer’s instructions, and preheat to medium-high (190?C). Yes, I know this is higher than the traditional low-and-slow smoking temperature, but the higher temperature crisps the skin.
Remove any giblets and large lumps of fat from inside the chicken. Place 1 tbsp of the rub in the neck and main cavities. Tie the legs together with butcher’s string or pin them together with a bamboo skewer. Fold the wing tips back and under the body of the chicken. Sprinkle the remaining rub over the outside of the chicken. Drizzle the bird with olive oil, rubbing it over the skin on all sides. Run the rotisserie spit through the chicken from side to side so the bird will spin head over tail evenly. (Why head over tail? You’ll get a juicier bird with crisper skin. I can’t explain the physics, but most of the world’s grill cultures spit-roast chickens this way, and it works.) Tighten the nuts on the rotisserie forks.
Affix the spit with the chicken on the rotisserie. Place an aluminum foil drip pan under the bird. Toss the wood chips on the coals or otherwise add the wood as specified by the manufacturer. Turn on the motor.
Smoke-roast the chicken until the skin is dark brown and crisp and the meat in the thigh reaches 75?C on an instant-read thermometer. (Insert it into the deepest part of the thigh but not touching the bone.) This will take 1? – 1? hours.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 5-10 minutes, then carve and dig in.
Don’t have a rotisserie? Don’t worry. Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to 190?C. Toss the wood chips on the coals or use one of the smoking methods for gas grills. This will take 1? – 1? hours.
Don’t have a grill? Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions. Preheat to 190?C (or as hot as the smoker will go if less than that). Smoke the chicken for 1? – 1? hours, or until cooked as described previously.
Extracted from Project Smoke: Seven Steps to Smoked Food Nirvana, Plus 100 Irresistible Recipes from Classic (Slam-Dunk Brisket) to Adventurous (Smoked Bacon-Bourbon Apple Crisp) by Steven Raichlen (Workman, approx €20.50), out now. Copyright – 2016.
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