I love grilling up a whole bird for lunch, with little preparation you have a great family meal or lunch for two with smokey leftovers for tomorrow’s sandwiches.
The key to barbeque chicken for me is that lovely smokey richness that you get when cooking over charcoal and woodchips. Though, if I am using a gas grill, I’ll use wood chips in a smoker box or bag made of foil to recreate that same smokiness.
Here's how to get your barbecue bird brilliantly chargrilled, juicy and perfectly cooked:
Step 1: Prepare the grill
For me, this is easy, as a Weber dealer I have all the gadgets, so I will half fill a chimney and light that until the briquettes turn to ash-white. If I am grilling at a friends house or at an event, this may involve fanning some lump charcoal until only the broken down white embers remain or preheating a gas grill to just under 200C. With all of these methods I will be creating a direct and indirect heat zone (ZZzzzZZ), its the best way to get your bird cooked through and that skin crispy and charred.
Step 2: Prepare your bird
Firstly, select your bird. Being half Australian, I love the birds that are farmed there, but as a resident of Hong Kong, I now prefer to get my birds closer to home. There is lovely three yellow chicken raised and available in Hong Kong as well as grain feed birds from Southern China - do your research, your meat supplier should know which farms they work with and what the quality of life etc. is like.
Once you have your chosen bird at home, you are going to want to spatchcock it. I do this by standing the bird up on my chopping board and carefully cutting along the backbone from neck to butt. You can also do this with scissors. Then place it on your chopping board and press with the palm of your hand on the breast of the bird to flatten it out.
*Spatchcocking your bird allows the meat to cook more evenly in the breast and thighs, meaning no more dry chicken!
Give the bird a quick rinse, remove kidneys, heart, etc. then pat down with kitchen paper. Now it's time for the fun part - dry rub time! Prepare the dry rub by grinding the dry ingredients listed below, I use a stone pestle and mortar, but you can use a spice grinder or a rolling pin if you don’t have either. Take the dry rub and apply liberally to the inside of the bird and over the skin, rub it in and let sit for 15-30 mins.
Step 3: Grilling!
Now that your charcoal is ash white and arranged into a hot zone and cool zone (ZZzzZZ) in your grill, ensure that your grill grate is clean and lightly oiled. Place the seasoned bird on the grill, skin side up with the legs facing the heat source.
This is when I add a handful of applewood chips to the briquettes. I’ll let that smoke uninterrupted for 30 mins, this allows all that smokiness to penetrate the meat and the skin begins to get nice and crispy.
Once the bird reaches about 145F, I suggest that you invest in a digital thermometer, I’ll start to baste the bird with a BBQ sauce, at home I use a store bought brand, you can make your own or also go with one from the store, something sweet and smokey. You can then place the bird skin side down, watch this closely, turning and repositioning the bird as needed, you want a charred bird, not a burnt bird!
Once your bird reads 165F in the thickest part of the breast, remove from the grill and let sit for 10mins. Break the bird down and serve!
- whole bird - 1.4-1.8kg
- 2 tablespoons cayenne chili powder
- 1 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoons cumin powder
- 1 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon crushed chipotle pepper
- Store-bought BBQ sauce