Barbeque: Chapter 1, Chickens

The Grill

(click on any picture to enlarge)

With trepidation, walking where angels fear to tread, here is my first post on barbeque.  With reference to pig, barbeque is a noun, not a verb in this neck of the woods.  I do hear people referring to barbecued chickens however.  And there is a myth about people in foreign parts who do something to a piece of beef that they call barbecue.

The chickens

Today, we are only talking about barbecued chickens, mostly to celebrate the new grill.  In a few weeks we’ll be doing a whole pig and a bunch more chickens for a party.  I will at that time discourse on our family history of cooking on wood, and chat about some of the differences between wood, charcoal, and gas, which is one of those topics about which everyone knows everything.  I have listened to arguments about gas vs. wood vs. charcoal which make religious disagreements sound like a trivial affair, and I’ve been known to throw a few accelerants into that fire myself.  Stay tuned for my own particular brand of flexibility and dogma, in which I will be likely to offend near everyone.

Open Grill

My father had a new grill made recently, with several innovations.  It has high pressure gas burners, and a separately fueled burner for sauces.  It is mounted on a trailer, with holders for the propane tanks, and a crank jack for leveling.  Inside, the grill has a shaped metal sheet which covers all the burners, nearly to the edges of the interior bottom of the grill.  This is designed to even out the heat and to protect against any flare-ups and keep the food from contacting flame.

Chickens

Other features include a built-in thermometer near the bottom of the grill, and two drop-in thermometers off of vents in the top.  Two air vents in the top with horizontally closing lids can also be used to regulate the grill.  There are 4 elbow-shaped air intakes on the bottom sides of the grill, which keep any strong wind from possibly blowing out the burners.  There are two sturdy hardwire framed grill grids, with a rigid steel frame and welded handles.  Using these, you can sandwich a whole pig, if necessary, and flip the pig over and put it back on the grill.  Both sides of the grill open up, allowing easy access and reach to the entire surface.  There are sliding metal rods that easily lock into place to hold the lid up for you, and they disengage just as easily to close it.  There are two drip holes cut into the bottom of the grill.  Place a pan under it, and anything that drips off the metal sheet and into the bottom will dribble out and be collected.

Sauce

We did a test run on the grill last weekend, and barbequed 25 young chickens.  It took about 30 minutes to set up and light the grill from when we towed it to the site.  We discovered that we needed to develop a method to hold the edges of the two top thermometers from touching the metal, which gets hotter than the surrounding air.  After adjustments and fiddling with gas settings and sundry for a bit, it all ran smoothly.

Custom Turning Fork

We poured the previously made sauce into a large pot, and set it on the extra burner to get hot, put the chickens skin-down on the grill and coated them all with sauce, using mops.  Every 30 to 45 minutes we’d baste them, and either rotate or flip them, depending.  4 hours later, we were done and eating great chickens.

Resting shelf on Grill

My father’s barbeque sauce recipe is below.  I’m still working on my sauce, in a fool’s hope of ever developing one that is as good as his.  I have a goal this year of working one up that is fit to post here, so there will be more experiments.  I am an inveterate fiddler, and can’t seem to resist tweaking and trying something new almost every time.  I just need to buckle down and get more scientific and goal-oriented about my bbq sauce.

BBQ sauce recipe:

½ gallon cider vinegar

½ cup sorghum

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon Tabasco

1 tablespoon cayenne

8 oz ketchup

1 stick of butter

½ can colemans dry mustard

2 cups of pepper flakes for looks

Boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Cheddar-Chive Biscuits

Along with the chicken that night, I made up a pan of cheddar-chive biscuits, which went nicely, and some steamed green beans from last years garden.  The chive bits are from the garden as well.  Another good side dish is southern coleslaw, but that is a whole ‘nother post.

Grill top

Cooking Grid

Sauce Pot

Gas intakes

Side thermometer

Side access

Air intake

Chickens on the Grill

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