How to be a Spatch-cock Chicken Grillmaster

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Cooking chicken on a grill is treacherous.

Do we do beer can the bird? Or do we cook parts? Do you know how to maintain a two-tier fire; one area for searing, the other to cook the bird through low and slow? And doesn’t white meat cook at a different rate than dark meat? How to get the skin crispy without burning? And dear Lord, what about a voila` presentation? Don’t we eat first with our eyes?

DadsRT is here to solve your poultry dilemma: the spatch-cocked chicken under a brick.

Go ahead and say it again: Spatch-cocked.  Fun, isn’t it? There are a wide variety of etymological paths for this term but it means to remove the bird’s backbone so that it can be laid flat on the grill. In this fashion, the bird cooks faster, and there is much less worry of the white meat drying out before the dark meat is cooked to 160⁰ F/72⁰C.

Here’s a quick video on how to spatch-cock your chicken, if you know what I mean.

Once the bird is split into two halves, you are going to apply your rub, place your bird on the low heat side of the grill, place your bricks on top, and about 60 minutes later, wow the bejeebers out of your family and friends with a crispy skinned, moist bird.

Hardware:

Grill. If wood or charcoal, you’ll build your fire on one side, and your grilling will be on the cooler side. If gas, you’ll just turn the dial.

2 bricks, wrapped in several layers of foil.

Heat-proof mitts a must, plus all the usual stuff.

Meat thermometer.

Teaspoon.

Work board

Clean-up:

Bleach solution: 1 TB bleach + 1 quart water

Software:

Cook’s beverage of choice.

Roasting chicken: 3.5-5 lbs, 1.5-2 kg.

Cooking spray.

Salt and pepper.

I lemon, quartered

Spice rub. Use dried spices. Yield=0.75 cup

Alternatively, you could purchase a jar of dried Italian seasoning mix

3 TB Basil

3 TB oregano

3 TB parsley

1 TB garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp rosemary

¼ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Give the mix a quick spin in your coffee grinder, or crush together in a bowl with the back of a spoon, or place in a heavy duty plastic bag and crush gently with a rolling pin. A little texture in your spice rub is good.

If you enjoy Middle-Eastern style chicken (like shawarma or tawook), mix together 2 TB garlic powder, 2 tsp onion powder, 2 tsp oregano, 1 ½ tsp sumac, and 1 tsp cumin.

Prep:

1) Place about ¼ cup of seasoning mix in small bowl

2) Spatch-cock your chicken.  Leave bird on cutting board. Reserve chicken back. You’ll cook this, too.

3) Gently work a finger or two between meat and skin of bird. Make certain to leave enough connective tissue so that skin stays attached. You’ll be depositing the rub between flesh and skin with your teaspoon.

4) Dip your spoon into rub.

5) Insert spoon down into thigh/leg area. Turn spoon a bit so that rub falls from spoon. Repeat two or three times.

5) Massage skin and meat together. You’ll be able to see the rub through the skin.

6) Continue with rub and spoon into white meat areas of chicken.

7) Wash hands, and refill small bowl with seasoning mix.

8) Repeat procedure with second chicken half.

9) Sprinkle a little rub on the chicken back.

10) Wash hands.

11) Salt and pepper, to taste, both the skin side and underside of the bird.

12) Wash hands well with soap and warm water.

13) Carefully tent bird halves with foil and leave on counter.

Make ready the fire! It’s time to cook:

1) Pre-heat grill or build fire. Remember, coals on one side only. Wait until coals are hot and flaked with ash. Flames do not create good eats.

2) Take your work board to the grill and remove the tent foil. Spray the brick foil on the side which will sit on the bird with a bit of cooking spray. TIP: Don’t point spray towards heat. The propellant in that stuff is flammable.

3) Place chicken halves skin side up as shown, leg side towards the heat (see slideshow photo).

4) Gently place bricks on chicken halves. Place chicken back in middle of grill.

5) Close grill. Cook time (estimated) 30:00.

6) Pro-tip: Use your nose. If you smell burning chicken flesh, either your flame is too high, or your meat’s too close to coals. Solve that problem, son.

More cooking (& some clean-up):

1) Return work board to counter in kitchen.

2) Sponge down all surfaces and tools with prepared bleach water. Bleach solution must stay in contact with surfaces for ten minutes.

3) Wash hands and pour favorite beverage.

4) After ten minutes of bleach contact, rinse or wipe surfaces clean.

5) Sit near grill, gazing purposefully into distance.

6) After 30:00 minutes of grill time, put down drink, don your mitts, and lift lid.

7) Remove bricks. Yes, they will be hot.

8a) Rotate chicken so that white meat side will be nearest heat source.

8b) Chicken back will probably be done. Remove from heat and set aside on paper towel.

9) Replace bricks on top of chicken.

10) Remove mitts and pick up beverage. Resume watchful waiting whilst you gnaw and pick at chicken back. (It’s good to be the cook.)

11) After 15:00, remove bricks. Chicken should be near to a lovely golden color.

12) Flip chicken so it is skin-side down, and replace bricks on chicken. Orientation doesn’t matter at this step.

13) Close lid and pay attention. Any burning now will ruin the skin. After 10:00, open lid, remove bricks, and remove chicken from heat onto serving platter.

14) Place thermometer in chicken thigh, away from bone. You’re looking for 160F/72 C degrees. Check the white meat, too. You there? If yes, take platter into kitchen and tent with new, clean foil for 5 minutes. If no, return to heat, skin-side down, for another five minutes (bricks not necessary) or until thigh temp is 160F/72C.

15) Carry-over will raise chicken to 165F/75C. Perfect.

16) Cut chicken into pieces (see photo).

17) Squeeze lemon over chicken.

18) Serve. Enjoy the plaudits of the crowd whilst sipping shyly at your beverage.

 

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The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at http://dstan58.blogspot.com/

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