As I sit on my couch enjoying a cold frothy beverage, watching the Yankees sweep the Twins in their best of 5 ALDS, I find myself reminiscing (I had to Google for correct spelling) about some wonderfully grilled chicken halves that we enjoyed for dinner. My favorite technique for BBQ chicken was the topic of my thoughts, and so is born the Bitchin' BBQ Tech Tips.
*Please note that everything that I post to this blog that pertains to grilling will revolve around grilling with charcoal, and all posts pertaining to smoking will revolve around wood/charcoal smoking. Many, if not all, of the techniques, recipes, etc., that we cover will work just as well with propane (my uncle Vic and his propane smoker have produced some of the most succulent ribs I have ever enjoyed), it's just that I love using wood and/or charcoal and simply cannot stray!!!
Now, let me grab another frothy beverage and we'll continue....
When grilling any of God's creatures, one very key element is "knowing" your grill. What I mean, is that you MUST be able to control and maintain the temperature of your grill at all times. You do not need to know the exact temperature to the degree, but you must be able to achieve and maintain at least 3 different temperature ranges - Low - Medium - Hot. I would even add Really Hot to that list. Really Hot is the easiest temp range to achieve and maintain. Simply open all vents on your grill (I strongly recommend the Weber kettle style grill) and leave the top off. The more airflow allowed on the grilling surface, the hotter your coals will burn. Therefore, to achieve the Low temps you must close down the air vents (there are usually 2, one on the cover/lid, and one on the very bottom of the kettle), leaving them open just a tad (a technical term). To achieve Medium temp ranges, simply open both vents another tad or two, and see what happens. Always adjust as needed by opening or closing your vents in increments of "a tad". You must experiment with the air vents at least a few times and try to achieve and maintain each of the temp zones. This is called getting to know your grill. Once you get to know your grill, you will be ready to take the next step towards becoming a self proclaimed Grill Master.
Bartender.................................Thank You! And now...
1. BBQ Chicken
Technique = LOW AND SLOW!!!
I have an absolutely delicious yet remarkably simple recipe for BBQ Chicken that I will most certainly share with you at a later date, but this post has to do with technique, so, as Hannibal Lecter says in The Silence of the Lambs - "All good things to those who wait".
*Please note that I have used Kingsford brand charcoal since lighting my first and only Weber grill (thanks Vic and Janet) the day after I was married to my lovely wife, Regan, back in September 2001, however, after some recent studies there seem to be some much better choices on the market (a discussion for another time).
First, you must make sure that you have plenty of charcoal in the kettle as this type of grilling is called LOW (low temperature range) and SLOW (take your time, get yourself a beverage to enjoy, because this is going to take a little over an hour). Please note that charcoal is re-usable. Simply shut down (close) all vents immediately upon removing your chicken, put the top on the kettle, and let it be. This will smother your coals and allow for the re-use of your charcoal during your next grilling adventure.
Next, stack your charcoal in a pyramid, make sure the bottom vent on the kettle is completely open, apply lighter fluid and light. I use Kingsford brand lighter fluid, however there are some nice charcoal chimneys available that light your charcoal with only a few pieces of newspaper and no lighter fluid. After about ten minutes or so, your charcoal will turn ash colored and start to glow underneath. When most charcoal is ash colored, and your coals are HOT, spread the coals out over the entire bottom of the kettle. At this time put your cooking grate in its place and put the cover or lid on the grill. You are now going to start reducing the temperature of your coals to LOW. Close both vents, leaving them open a tad and let your coals cool to LOW temp. This is where "knowing your grill" comes into play. After about 4-5 minutes, remove the lid and wave your hand over the coals, feeling both for a reduced temp and to make sure your coals are lit evenly across the bottom of the kettle (if there is a cool spot, remove the cooking grate with a good pot holder or grilling mit and readjust coals with some sort of poker (I use my wire grate-cleaning brush) by moving some of the hot coals to the cool spot).
Now it's time to put the chicken on the grill. Spread the chicken out evenly across the grate, put the lid back on and LEAVE IT ALONE. A common mistake is checking your meat every few minutes. This is a big no-no. Your Weber grill uses circulating smoke to add flavor to your meat and to keep your meat moist. Removing the lid every few minutes will reduce both of these wonderful effects. Also, by removing your lid, you are adding an enormous amount of air to your fire, increasing the temp from LOW to MED and this will most certainly lead to a burnt and dried out finished product. So, after putting your chicken on, cover and let stand for between 10-12 minutes (this is a perfect opportunity for another properly chilled beverage). After 10-12 minutes, your chicken should be ready to flip. Pick a couple of pieces of chicken to flip and inspect. They should appear to be browning but should NOT appear to be burnt. If they appear burnt, you must immediately reduce your temp by closing both vents a tad. If they are not browning, then your coals are not hot enough = open vents a tad. Put the lid back on and again LEAVE IT ALONE!!! 10-12 minutes on each side of chicken followed by 6-8 minutes on each side and you are almost ready to enjoy some of the juiciest, most succulent BBQ chicken you will ever have. After the 6-8 minutes on each side, you need to inspect your chicken. I do this by looks only. Your chicken should appear somewhat charred, not burnt, but should still appear to be juicy. If it does not look charred yet juicy, cover and grill for 2-3 more minutes on each side and re-inspect. Continue this process until your chicken appears to be done..At this time, remove all chicken, immediately shut down your fire by closing all vents and replacing the lid, and ENJOY!!!!!!
- If I ever leave anything out or post something incorrectly, please email me and let me know
- After removing your meat from the grill, ALL meat should be given approx. 5 minutes to stand before serving. During this standing period the meat will re-absorb its juices, giving you a (obviously) a juicier piece of meat.
- All meat should be at room temperature before being placed on the grill. this will keep meat from sticking to cooking grate and will ensure that your meat cooks evenly throughout.
- When BBQing your chicken with a marinade, as I do, you should brush marinade on each piece of meat after each flip of the meat. This will help to ensure a moist and succulent finished product.
- What to drink while making/eating BBQ chicken = Whatever you feel like drinking that day. I have had a variety of white wines (the most traditional match for chicken), a variety of red wines (the least traditional match for chicken), a variety of beer (the most traditional match for ANYTHING at ANYTIME). I have also enjoyed a vodka martini (up and dirty), a good sipping whiskey (on rocks), even a frozen margarita, and ALL OF THEM tasted awesome and appropriate at the time, so it is completely up to you and what you feel like consuming that day or that minute!!
Grill Masters of Bitchin' BBQ