Cooking outdoors, the smell of wood smoke, delicious cuts of meat: you’ve got to love it. But if you’re still stuck in BBQ first gear, then I’d be happy to help you move up a few steps to become a barbecue hero among your friends and family.
I love barbecue and smoked food, and cooking outdoors is a huge passion of mine, I think it’s great to take a big chunk of good quality local meat, and turn it into something really special. I think you can make use of your barbecue year round (just wrap up warm).
I’m going to start this blog with the classic Beer Can Chicken.
Do you need lots of fancy gear? No. You can cook this on any barbecue with a lid, a charcoal kettle barbecue would be ideal, but this can be cooked on a gas barbecue using smoking wood chips in a foil packet.
Though there are a couple of items that are going to make your life a whole lot easier without spending out much.
And then for a charcoal barbecue, a chimney starter will get you cooking in 10 minutes. These are around £15.
Then a quick word on setting up your barbecue. With a charcoal barbecue set your burning charcoal, (I use quality lumpwood) to either side of a foil or metal tray, so that the chicken juices drip into this and not onto hot coals,
which would cause flare ups and
cremate your chicken.
Then you need to prepare your chicken (free range or organic preferably), remove the giblets from the cavity if present. Then make up a dry rub with the following:
Soft brown sugar 3 tbsp
Smoked paprika 2 tbsp
Black pepper 2 tbsp
Coarse sea salt 2 tbsp
Celery powder 1 tsp
Onion powder 1 tsp
Cayenne pepper ½ tsp
Rub this into your chicken thoroughly. Drink half a can of lager/beer/cider/soft drink of your choice, and slide the top of the beer can inside the chickens cavity, not the most fun of activities, but this will keep the bird moist and act as a stand.
Place the mounted bird on the grate of your barbecue above the tray, so it’s perfectly balanced on the can, and pop a handful of wood chips onto the coals (these are readily available from good garden centres or specialist smokers). I usually use maple, apple or cherry for poultry.
Put the lid of the barbecue on and leave for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast/thigh is 72°C or check the juices run clear. Then carefully remove the hot beer can, wearing an oven glove, and leave the chicken to rest for 10-20 minutes.
You will find you have the most succulent smoky chicken you have ever tasted, and served with a green salad and some good bread will make for a cracking meal.
I’m planning on posting monthly articles to help you make this year an alfresco eating year to remember. Just keep your fingers crossed for a good summer.