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Classic Barbecued Chicken

Learn all the tips and tricks for delicious barbecued chicken.

The aroma of barbecuing chicken is the perfume of summer. There are dozens of ways

to enjoy it, including our Texas, Tar-Heel, and Jamaican styles. But first, learn how to

prepare chicken for grilling, test chicken for doneness, spit roast a whole chicken, make
your own barbecue sauce, and brush on a finishing touch before serving.


 

Chicken Prep


Remove the chicken from the refrigerator just before cooking. Pull off any fat and clean the cavity. Don't
remove the skin; it keeps the meat moist as it cooks. If you wish, remove the skin after cooking to lower the
fat content.
Rub the chicken with a lemon and brush it with a thin film of olive oil. Or try some sesame or walnut oil, both
of which impart special flavor. Season with salt and pepper and with parsley, rosemary, sage, or tarragon.
Is It Done Yet?
Outside temperature affects the interior heat of a grill. Chicken parts, quarters, and halves require 45 to 60
minutes on the grill on a balmy day and as much as 1 hour 15 minutes on a cold or windy day.


Cook's Secrets


"Too much charcoal ruins a barbecue, causing
flames and burned food. Small chicken legs need a
minimum of 30 minutes to cook, large legs 45. So, for
a relatively slow fire, put two loose layers of charcoal
pieces or briquettes on a tiny fire. If more charcoal is
needed later, push it in at the edges, otherwise it will
shoot soot onto the food." -- Jeanne Voltz, Cookbook
 

Author and Grill Expert
Test halves and quarters with an instant-read thermometer for doneness -- 180°F for breast meat; 185°F for
dark meat. Or slit a joint or meaty spot with a thin knife. If the juices run clear and the flesh shows no signs
of pink, the bird is done. If still pinkish, cook a few minutes longer.
Whole Chickens
Spit roasting over a fire gives chicken crisp skin and great flavor. To prep the chicken, season it inside and
out with salt, pepper, and sauce, if desired. Tie the legs to the tail and wrap cooking twine around the breast
to hold the wings in place. Push the spit from the neck through the body and out the tail. Fasten spit forks at
the front and back. Engage the spit and turn once to balance.
Push the coals to the back of the grill and set a drip pan below the cooking spot. Lock the spit in place, start
the motor, and cook the chicken until the skin blisters and browns lightly. (Raise the spit for a roaster
weighing more than six pounds so the drip pan is seven inches from the bird.)
Cook, basting with sauce or equal parts of olive oil and lemon juice every 15 minutes, until a meat
thermometer reaches 185°F.
Saucy Strategy
If you like to slather sauce onto chicken while it cooks, the following is a good sauce to choose. It adds
punchy flavor but will not cause flare-ups.
In a small saucepan, stir together 1/2 cup chicken stock, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 tablespoon each olive oil,
minced parsley, tarragon, or rosemary, and 1 minced garlic clove. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon
freshly ground black pepper, and, if desired, 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce. Place the pan of sauce at
the edge of the grill so it stays warm and is handy for basting the chicken.
A Finishing Touch
For traditional barbecue flavor, brush this sauce on chicken when it is done. In a small saucepan over
moderate heat, sauté 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion in 1 tablespoon oil 2 to 3 minutes, add 1/2 cup
bottled barbecue sauce, and 1/4 cup each of lemon juice and chicken stock. Keep hot at the edge of the
grill. This is enough for 4 chicken quarters.

 

 

 

 

 

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