Tag Archives: chicken

In Search Of The Perfect Chicken

Some people say the pursuit is half the fun. I say, game on!

Did Someone Say Chicken! - Image by Terry Johnston

Ah, the perfect roast chicken. Why does this have to be so hard? I know they say nothing good is ever easy, but, why can’t it be. Cooking the perfect bird is an elusive goal. Especially, since the definition varies from eater to eater.

For instance, I like my roast chicken cooked so the skin is crisp and a little salty. It doesn’t matter what other spices grace the outside of the bird, but, I want a touch of saltiness to it. I want the meat to be moist and juicy. I think most of us can agree on that. And, lastly, my ideal bird has an overall “full” flavor. What I mean by that, is when you’re eating it, you know that it’s chicken and not possibly some other meat that all of the flavor has been bred out of (like most of today’s pork).

That’s not asking to much, is it? I think not.

At this point we’ve all read through enough recipes that lay out a myriad of ways to accomplish these goals. I won’t go through the exercise of reciting them for you. We’ve heard them all before and we would be here all day. Suffice it to say there are as many methods as there are cooks.

My quest is simple. Allow me to break it down in terms anyone can understand. I want to turn this…

Chicken Before The Roast

Into this…

The Perfect Roast Chicken

It doesn’t get any more basic than that. And, I have finally achieved a modicum of success!

It’s summer so my preferred cooking venue is the great outdoors (that means grill). I’m usually either employing the beer can method or trying to jostle a variety of parts around the grate making certain to not over or undercook any. Usually this has very mixed results.

The beer can chickens are consistently consistent. Cooked through nicely, never browned all that uniformly and usually a little roughed up coming off the can. The nice thing about that cooking style, is you could down 20 or so beers (I think that’s why it’s called beer can chicken) and have the same end result. Once the bird in on, well, it’s pretty much autopilot.

As for cooking parts, well, you don’t need an overactive imagination to know how that turns out. You really have to pay attention, that obviously means no running to join the party or playing a game of bags. Some parts end up pretty good and others, well, less than pretty good.

Today I am turning my attention to the most underutilized of all my of BBQ toys. The noble rotisserie. If the beer can is the lazy mans way to cook, the rotisserie runs a very close second. There’s a little more monitoring required, but, you don’t really have to be fully engaged. You just need to know how to operate the burner controls. That I can do.

Here’s How To Do It

Ingredients
1 whole roasting chicken (3-5 lbs.)
2 quarts cold water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 + 2 tbsp. cup kosher salt
Fresh rosemary stalks
1 small onion, halved
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
Olive oil
fresh ground pepper

Method
In a large bowl combine the water, sugar and kosher salt. Stir until completely dissolved. Clean out the chicken. Place in a large Ziploc bag. Pour brine into bag and seal. I brined my chicken for about 4 hours.

Prepare your grill for rotisserie cooking.

Remove chicken from bag and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Pat dry. Fasten your chicken to the spit. Rub the outside with olive oil. Stuff the rosemary, garlic and onion inside the chicken cavity. Tie back the legs and pin the wings so they’re not flopping around during cooking. You may want to pin the cavity shut loosely so your stuffing doesn’t fall out when it’s rotating. Sprinkle with some fresh ground pepper.

Place rotisserie on the grill and start. I have a three burner (front to back) grill. I turn my front and back burners on medium and leave the center burner in the off position. Let it cook. It should take about an hour and fifteen minutes depending on the size of the bird. You’ll need an instant read to know when it’s really done. Internal white meat temp should be 165, dark 185. Some people like it cooked a little less, that’s up to you. I’m not a fan of bloody poultry, but that’s just me.

Let’s have another look at the finished product shall we.

A Great Roasted Chicken

I’m proud of my bird!

A few quick notes. I usually brine anyway, so not a big deal. But, with the dry heat of the BBQ, it really makes a big difference here. The addition of the herbs and veggies stuffed in the cavity gave it a very hearty, earthy flavor. And, the length of my brining time meant the skin had it’s saltiness without adding any extra. I’m always a little back and forth on salting after brining. If it’s not brined long enough, you almost have to add a little extra. But, it can be a risky proposition.

Now get out there, dig through our BBQ parts storage area and find that rotisserie. Get all of the accumulated crud off of it and put it to use.

As usual, this being a cookbook site. Here’s a few books with some other ideas for cooking a perfect bird.

The Big Book of Chicken: Over 275 Exciting Ways to Cook Chicken
The Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook: Home-Made Meals with Store-Bought Convenience
The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Chicken

App Update: iGrill

CLICK to buy your own iGrill

Back last February we did a piece on the new iGrill thermometer/app.

The iGrill is a slick little smartphone application that lets you monitor the cooking temperature of whatever you happen to have on your BBQ or smoker. Since our original post, the app has had a major overhaul. And, I’m here to report that the changes that have been made make for a much improved user experience.

In addition to the refinements to the smartphone app, there is now a new iPad application for the iGrill. This version still has the old school meat thermometer interface that has apparently been removed from the new phone update (if it hasn’t been removed, I can’t figure out how to get to it).

The iGrill iPad App

The biggest problem I had when first testing the iGrill was its ability to stay connected to the base unit. The latest update seems to have remedied that issue. The connectivity problems have disappeared.

The user interface has been redesigned. It’s still pretty straightforward, time and temp, very readable and simple. I have to admit that I do miss the option of having the meat thermometer (pictured above) as a choice on the phone. That was pretty awesome (maybe it will return in a future update).

I decided to use the smoker this time for my evaluation. And, for consistency, I cooked chicken once again. I also thought the 4 hour smoking time would be a fair test of the Bluetooth handshake problems that I had encountered previously.

Chickens in. Connection seamless. So far, so good.

I wanted to make sure that my chickens smoked to 180 degrees. But, I didn’t want them to get there too fast. I checked in regularly with the iGrill and made the necessary temperature adjustments to the smoker. The app performed fantastic. No problems at all. Connected flawlessly each and every time I fired up the phone.

The connection distance seems to have been increased a little too. Granted, I couldn’t check from my beach chair, but, I could monitor in between bean bag tosses.

This is a very successful update for the iGrill. The app was great before. But, now with all of the issues I had experienced during my first use addressed, it’s going to be a regular part of my BBQ/smoker tool arsenal. iDevices should take a bow for making something already good, that much better!

Oh, and the chickens ended up being some of the best to come out of my smoker! My Guinea pigs were most happy!

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