Three simple barbecues
Lesson 3 - A whole chicken
What is better than a moist roast chicken with crisp skin? I don't know either and you might be surprised how easy it is to barbecue. You will need a barbecue with a lid to roast a chicken. A kettle barbecue is ideal but a gas barbecue will work too.
Light some charcoal in a starter chimney the amount will be determined by how much you are going to cook. To find out more about this there is a guide to lighting your barbecue. For a whole chicken (1.5Kg or lbs)you need to use a chimney full of lumpwood and be ready to add some more during the cook or a full chimney of briquettes will be enough.
After cleaning the barbecue arrange the charcoal retainers to hold your charcoal on each side of the barbecue leaving the centre clear. You can read more about the hot roasting technique. This will help you understand how you will be cooking your food. In the kettle grill the charcoal retainers are approximately 1/3 from the sides to give three equal areas. If you don't have charcoal retainers you will need to the best that you can to place the hot charcoal evenly on opposite sides of the barbecue. Use a metal poker to drag any hot charcoal that breaks loose.
If you are not using a starter chimney place two pieces of fire lighter on each side the charcoal grate. Pile some charcoal over the firelighters evenly. By placing the firelighters on the charcoal grate you will give yourself room to get the firelighters lit and the charcoal will soon get going. It is difficult to advise the amount of charcoal to use as everyone will have different ways to measure. There are some pictures to help visualise it below. If you feel you want to use more do so, you will learn how much you need depending on what you are cooking. Let the firelighters burn through and the charcoal will take. Initially it may be smoky and don't be tempted to do anything until the charcoal has a grey ash covering all over.
With the charcoal hot and ready to cook, place the cooking grill on the barbecue and open top and bottom vents. After a minute any residuals from previous barbecues will begin to burn. Use a wire brush to clean the grill as necessary. If you are using a gas barbecue use the front and rear or left and right burner, leave the centre burner off. You will need to set the burner somewhere to 50% but watch to see that the temperature is in the 160°C to 180°C or 325°F to 350°F.
Line a small tray with foil or use a disposable foil tray. Season your chicken as you like. Some garlic, rosemary and lemon in the cavity is good. Season the skin, use some salt and pepper. A small amount of salt will help crisp the skin up. Put the chicken on the tray and place the tray on the barbecue in the centre of the barbecue. There should not be any burning charcoal under the tray. Put the lid on the barbecue.
Forty five minutes into the cook lift the lid and check that the charcoal is ok and for visible signs that the chicken is cooking. If the chicken shows no sign of cooking check your charcoal and that the vents are open fully. If the chicken is browning rather too well put some foil over it.
After an hour and a half check the chicken and test for how well done it is. Use a skewer in the thickest part of the thigh and check to see the juices are running clear. Use a meat thermometer if you are unsure. If the chicken is cooked remove the tray with the chicken on it and place it somewhere stable. Put some foil over the whole thing so that the steaming juices can return to the meat. Allow 10 minutes to rest. If you want to make some gravy use the cooking juices to do that.
It is as simple as that. A whole roasted chicken that is moist and tasty cooked on a barbecue. The best bit, you hardly had to do a thing!
If you are going to cook more than one chicken this will take a little longer. Check the chicken after an hour and half and then every 15 minutes or so.