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Simple steps to perfectly barbecue whole chicken
I love to barbecue. I do not care what the temperature outside is, as long as I can get the grill fired up, I will grill some meat. And one of my favorite things to grill is chicken. Sure, chicken breasts can easily be substituted, but for me the best flavors always come from when the meat is on the bone.
Step 1 Prepare the Marinade and the Meat
Wash and rinse your chickens thoroughly before putting in a marinade. They do not have to be dried, since you will be putting them in a wet marinade.
The style of grilling chicken that I really came to love was one that I regularly ate in Saudi Arabia. In their supermarket chains called Hyper Panda, they sold marinated-in-the-package chickens. The chickens were always flattened out, so this is one of the twists I have incorporated into my chicken grilling, plus it is fun to smashy-smashy. On a flat surface, preferably with a meat mallet, smack that chicken flat, yes you will be crushing bones to get the chicken flatter.
I have used the flat side of a hammer head, cleaned and wrapped in plastic. Or you could use a cast iron skillet or other heavier pan or a large can from your pantry. Just be careful and try to avoid damaging whatever underlying surface you are banging on. Butcher block is a great surface to have underneath. Or another type of thick cutting board on a countertop with a dishtowel underneath the board to prevent the board from slipping around.
If you do smack your chicken flat, you might need to give it a rinse again, cleaning out any small pieces of bone that you shattered in your chicken splattering attack.
Preparing the Marinade
Quick Marinade for 1 to 2 Whole Chickens (each about 2 lbs. or 1 kilogram)
8 oz. (200 ml) Italian Dressing
2 oz. (60 ml) Soy Sauce
¼ to ½ Cup Sugar
1-2 Cups (around 200-400 ml) Water or enough to cover if not using a sealable plastic bag
The quickest and easiest way to make a marinade is to combine half a normal sized bottle (about 8 ounces or 200 ml) of Italian dressing. I still prefer dressing that is made of actual oil, vinegar and spices. I have always found something off putting about dressings that add emulsifiers so the whole dressing is uniform and does not separate. I like the ones that separate into its components. Viva Italian, my preference for flavor, used to regularly be available in my supermarkets, but I have had difficulty finding it in recent years. Combine the Italian dressing with about 2 ounces (60 ml) of your favorite soy sauce. My favorite brands are the ones that are actually used in countries in Asia, like Healthy Boy Brand Soy Sauce. But these often have high amounts of sodium, so use sparingly.
½ Cup (50-75 ml) corn oil or other clear, light yellow oil (No Olive Oil)
¼ Cup vinegar
2 tablespoons of an Italian dry herb mix
¼ to ½ Cup Sugar
¼ Cup (60 ml) Soy Sauce
A couple crushed garlic cloves
¼ to ½ of an onion that is minced
And if you like ¼ to ½ of a sweet pepper also minced
A sufficient amount of Water, 1-2 Cups (around 200-400 ml) to cover or thin out marinade
My preference is to use sealable bags to combine my meat and marinade. If you use large-sized sealable bags, you can reduce the amount of marinade you need to make.
I often make my marinade by approximating quantities. It does not have to be exact and about the only thing that I have found with either of these recipes that can ruin the end result is too much salt. So, I really suggest not going over the suggested amount of Soy Sauce as that will be what adds the salt to the dish. No extra salt is needed.
Ideally, you can marinate your chicken overnight. But I have found that chicken does a pretty good job of absorbing the marinade in four to six hours. Make sure to cover and refrigerate during this time.
Leaving your chicken outside of the fridge to marinate, could result in harmful bacteria growth.
I love grilling. Like I said, I grill throughout the year. I grill in snow and cold, heat and rain. I grill.
I grill on gas, or with raw lump charcoal, or charcoal briquettes, or wood. I usually do not have a working thermometer, so it is all about keeping an eye on the fire, the flames and the chicken.
I also like turning my meat to ensure that it cooks evenly and does not burn. As the flames heat and liquefy the chicken fat, there tend to be flare-ups from the liquid fat catching fire on the coals. The result can be a singed or gross tasting meat. I use a spray bottle with water to control the heat before it flames. Spraying water onto a fat flame is similar to a grease fire, sprayed water can create a bigger fire ball, so be careful. Also, I will move the chicken around to avoid it from being engulfed in a fire ball.
Grilling to me is a leisurely process, even on a gas grill. And this chicken needs at least 45 minutes to cook through thoroughly. During this time of grilling, I am frequently flipping the birds and enjoying myself to a cold one. This could be water, coke or beer, but it is most likely the latter. For me grill smoke and beer go together like old friends.
After the birds have grilled for the requisite 45 minutes to an hour, I start to check on the meat. There are two ways I do this. The first is to push on the thickest part of the breast. If it is soft, I know it is not close to being finished.
If the chicken is firmer and feels like it is done, obviously this comes from experience and experimentation, I may check on it with a knife. And I know that one of the things I will avoid doing is just going into the middle of the meat. Cutting meat while it is still hot is a horrible thing to do, imagine poking a water balloon with a blade, in a similar way, cutting hot or grilling meat in the middle releases the juices that keep the chicken moist and delicious.
So, what I like to do is with the bird breast-side up on the grill. I take a small paring knife and cut along the breast bone in the middle of the two breasts. I will use the knife and my fingers, moving quickly to not burn myself and check to see how well done this section is. As this point in between the two breasts is the densest and meatiest, if it is significantly cooked, then I know it is close to finishing. If this area is still relatively raw, I know that I will have to cook for a while longer.
When I know that my meat is almost finished, in the last 5-10 minutes on the grill, I apply my favorite barbecue sauce. I do this at a leisurely pace and only flip the chicken once more to coat each side. I like to have a thick coating of sauce that forms on the outside. I do not usually have a barbecue brush, so I will use the back of a spoon to spread it around. Of course, watching out for flare-ups and moving quickly to avoid the heat.
At this point the chicken is finished and take it off the grill and place it on a clean, new platter.
Ready to Eat
I wait at least 10 minutes for the chicken to cool to ensure the juices stay in the meat and do not come exploding out as soon as I cut the chicken.
I like to have extra barbecue sauce for dipping. It can be nice to take it and warm it. I would definitely avoid taking refrigerated barbecue sauce and putting it on my warm meat.
With these simple steps, you can make delicious barbecue chicken that is sure to please family and friends alike.
Check out this article for a perfect side dish with the “Perfect Barbecue Chicken”. A “Barbecue Bestie” Killer Coleslaw