Sunday, May 6, 2012

Not another rotisserie chicken

I picked up a couple chickens a couple days ago with the thought that I'd put them on the rotisserie again. That works well, but I decided that I wanted to be a little more adventurous and use charcoal. Unfortunately I have nothing that burns charcoal and on which I can  mount a rotating spit. I recall some recipes on Primal Grill that involved a bird split in half so I decided to go that way. It seems like the perfect task for my big Weber. I settled on the recipe for Java Chicken with cafe latte BBQ sauce. It sounded pretty good to me, particularly since I like the coffee rub on brisket (what we had for lunch today) and this started out as coffee rub for chicken. I'll take advantage of the extra space on the grate to grill some zucchini to go along with the chicken.

Weather today has included rain and thunder showers but that may be behind us for the rest of the day - I hope! Temperature is about 63° F right now and wind is light at about 6 mph. The sky remains cloudy and I can hear thunder in the distance.

I mixed the rub per the recipe making a double batch and then split the chicken, saving the back bone, breastbone, giblets and fat and skin trimmings for stock. Then about 3:30 PM I rubbed the chicken and returned it to the refrigerator to marinate a bit while I prepared the kettle.

I'm using lump charcoal and an aluminum drip pan in the middle. I'll use my Maverick ET-73 to monitor cooker temperature so I can shoot for about 350° F. I think I'll use oak and mesquite for smoking woods for this one.  The charcoal chimney goes on the propane burner about 4:15 PM and put on the charcoal grate at 4:18. At 4:30 I dumped the coals onto either side of the fire grate and put the meat on. Before closing up the cooker I put some oak and mesquite on each side of the indirect fire lay. Within minutes the temp is up to 360° so I closed the bottom vent to about 3/4 open.

While the chicken was getting started I set about making the Mocha Mop Sauce and the Cafe Latte Barbecue Sauce. Joke's on me! Care Latte is identical to the Redeye recipe Raichlen provides for beef brisket and I just made some a couple days ago. I'll use that for the chicken then. I'm not a huge fan of mops but this one has both beer and coffee in addition to chocolate so it seems worth a try. As far as the mop goes, it was Dark Magic coffee and Ranger India Pale Ale for the brew.

Here's the chicken ready for the second mop.

4:35 PMMeat on! Starting with top and bottom vents wide open.
5:00350°Temperature measurement was spot on! Woops... It just dropped to 329°. I guess I'll open the bottom vent wide open again.
5:14302°All vents open and temp still dropping. :( Time to open up and mop and see what's going on! Fire looked robust on one side and not so robust on the other. I added more oak and a few Stubbs briquettes on the not so robust side to see what happens. Chicken looks OK but not moving too fast.
5:30310°Mop again.
5:46310°Mop again. Flipped the birds and mopped the bottom too. I also added about a half dozen lit briquettes to the laggard side of the fire.
6:00273°This time it looks like the robust side of the fire had nearly exhausted the fuel. I added some lump to both sides. I also flipped the birds back up and mopped again.
6:45327°Mopped again, mop sauce almost gone. I poked the birds a bit and they were between 155° and 160°. I'm going to take the zucchini out and grill it over the coals with some green onions. Next I slather on a bit of redeye sauce and set it over the coals for 2 minutes.
Chicken off.

Chicken was still a little bloody at the joints which was to be expected, I suppose. Skin did not crisp due to the extended cooking time. However the white meat was very moist and the chicken was delicious.

When cooking something on the big grill that's going to take over an hour, I need to start with more than a full chimney or charcoal. I can probably light one chimney and pour it out on to some unlit coal. If I need instant high heat, then it's going to take to be two chimneys.


  1. I recall the big 26" Weber did seem to use a lot of charcoal. But I loved that grill. Wonder what happened to it. I'll have to ask my dad.

    What do you use, precisely, when you say "lump charcoal"?

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  3. You should see if it's still knocking around somewhere and get it back in service.

    This time I used Grove lump from Woodman's (a mostly Wisconsin grocery chain.) I've also used mesquite lump from Sam's club and Royal Oak from Menards.