Real Barbecued Whole Chicken
Many people refer to any outdoor cooking as barbecue, even when they slap a couple of hot dogs on the George Foreman grill for the kids! True barbecued meats are cooked verrrry slowly– “low and slow.” There is a restaurant near where we live that serves up some damn good barbecued chicken. They inspired me to try making it myself using our gas grill with a rotisserie attachment. Gas heat is not the most traditional way to barbecue, but it can still turn out a barbecued bird that beats the socks off the everyday grilled stuff. I pieced this guide together from other people’s recipes and instructions.
4-5 lb. whole chicken
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup coconut aminos (or gluten-free soy sauce if you aren’t super strict on paleo-ness)
6-8 big handfuls of wood chips sold for use in barbecuing
Roll of aluminum foil
Electric rotisserie for the grill
- Soak all the wood chips in a big bowl of water for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove the grates from the grill. Turn all burners on grill to high. Close lid to pre-heat.
- Remove the packet of “extras”/giblets from the inside of the chicken and set aside for another use. Place the chicken on the rotisserie spit, with the spit running in through the “butt” and coming out through the neck hole or vice-versa.
- Truss the chicken with cotton string to make it more stable. Just tie the string around one of the drumstick bones and wind it around the other drumstick and tie it to snug everything up as much as possible. It doesn’t have to be a perfect technique! Bend the wings backward and tuck them under the back so they don’t stick out and get completely burned. The goal is for the bird to be evenly balanced and compact on the spit. If it is unevenly balanced, it will turn faster when the heavy part comes around and cause uneven cooking. You can rest the chicken, spit and all, on a large plate until you put it on the grill.
- Whisk together olive oil and coconut aminos in a small bowl. Brush outside of chicken with the mixture.
- Place soaked wood chips on one half of a rectangle of aluminum foil about 14 inches log and the full width of your roll. Fold the foil over the wood chips and fold the three open edges inward to make a sealed packet. Poke 5-10 holes in the top with a knife to let the smoke out.
- Turn off burner(s) on one end of the grill where the chicken will be directly over it. Place a pan or cookie sheet on top of the ceramic grid to catch the drippings from the chicken. This decreases the grease mess, plus you can use the drippings to make gravy or use as a treat for your very patient canine friends. You will be cooking the chicken with indirect heat.
- Place foil packet of wood chips over the burner that is still lit. The packet of chips is being heated with direct heat.
- Place the spit with the chicken into the grill with rotisserie motor attached. Turn the rotisserie motor on and make sure the chicken is balanced on the spit. Make any necessary adjustments before the chicken gets hot. Close the grill lid and be patient. The internal temperature of the grill should not get much over 225 degrees F during the entire cooking time. You will start to smell smoke in a little while as the wood chips heat up. The chips should smoke but not burn. You may need to adjust the heat of the burner to achieve the right temperature.
- Every 30-45 minutes, open the grill and
1) Replace foil packet of wood chips because the original chips will stop smoking after about that amount of time.
2) Baste chicken with olive oil/coconut aminos mixture.
3) Check temperature of chicken meat with an instant read thermometer (link leads to the only thermometer I’ve ever owned that is cheap and reliable). It’s finished when the temp. is about 160 in the thigh, 165 in the breast area. Please note, these temperatures are lower than the USDA guidelines, but the flavor will be better. Look at me, I ate it and I am still alive. My total cooking time was about 3 hours.
The chicken I made turned out almost perfect. The meat was very juicy and had a mild smokey flavor. Next time I’ll try turning on the infrared burner at the back of the grill for a little while at the end of the cooking time to create a crisper skin. I believe you could also barbecue a whole chicken without a rotisserie attachment. It would just require placing the chicken on a grate and turning it by hand, maybe every 20-30 minutes.
Sure it takes a long time to finish, but if your grill is big enough, you could cook two chickens at the same time. Put one in the freezer to enjoy later. The time could be used for lounging around, communing with friends and drinking wine.
Do you think real barbecued chicken is better than your standard grilled chicken?