There is a historical southern tradition in the South whereby the pastor is invited to a parishioner’s house for a Sunday chicken dinner after church. But since I’m not in the south, and because my family of five can eat a heckuva lot more chicken than a bachelor pastor, tonight’s Sunday chicken dinner was up to me.
This is the second cook on “Eggie”, the newest member of the family. I decided to do two whole chickens because of space and time. (I have the space but don’t always have time to cook dinner during the week, so this is what I call “purposeful leftovers.”) Over Christmas, I read through Chris Lilly’s Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book
and took to what he calls “Loaf Pan Chicken.” This dish seemed not only tasty but also idiot proof. (I am a big fan of idiot proof. Big fan. Huge.) The idea is to season a chicken, stick it in a loaf pan, and cook it for two to two and a half hours. So I got the chicken, made the wet mixture, put the dry mixture together, and stuck it in the loaf pan. So far…pretty idiot proof. :huh:
Since I used the fire squares on the first cook, I decided to use the electric starter for the second. This was a very intriguing process to my son who said that “he had always wanted to see how one of those things worked.” (The boy is almost eleven and, to my knowledge, has never even heard the term “electric starter” before. So basically I have no idea what he was talking about.) :S So accompanied by the boy who was about to have one of his dreams come true, I stuck the starter in the lump, plugged it in, and we waited. My son looked up, disappointed, and quizzically asked “Is that it?” Perhaps he was thinking of something more on a grand scale like, perhaps, a small explosion or maybe a light saber thingy was going to start setting lump afire right and left with all kinds of cool sounding effects. Personally, I blame Nintendo. Thus having had yet another one of his pre-adolescent doses of reality, he asked permission to go back inside and left me to my boring electric starter. (Mental note to self: keep boy away from home when using MAPP torch.)
The starter did magically well and I let it burn down and got the temp settled. After the period of necessary waiting, I put a few hickory pieces in, put the place setter in, and put the bottom rack of the three rack grill in. (The idea was to try and cook biscuits on top.) I then went back into the house to fetch the chickens, having learned a previous physics lesson on Friday that food is a magnet to all the coal particles stirred by the wind. The wind has 360 degrees to choose from in deciding which way to blow the coals and, somehow, eerily, it always seems to know exactly where your food is. Spooky.
I let the chickens cook at 300 for two hours and there temp was 135 degrees. Eeek. I come back out twenty minutes later and find that Eggie’s temp is 225! I open the vents and come back twenty minutes later. 225. I take the daisy wheel off, open the vent full throttle and the needle does not move at all. By this time the wife is home with son number two from a gymnastics competition and they are starving. 20 minutes later, they are mutinous…and the needle still has not moved. Thus it was now time to save face and tail so I cranked on the oven to 350 and hastily put the biscuits together so that I would have something to throw at the family while keeping my tongs handy to stave them off. I then take the chickens off the grill, wrap the tops in foil, and put them in the oven where they cook for another thirty minutes before they are finally ready. Meanwhile, in-between commercials of Hannah Montana
and passing out biscuits, I try and sound intelligent as I seek to explain to everyone about why it’s taking so long. My seven-year-old daughter simply looked at me, rolled her eyes, and said, “Sweet Niblets!” I gave her another biscuit.
I took the chickens out, let them rest, and then carved one up. Needless to say, no one waited for me to get to the table to say grace…once they all got their plates loaded, they went right to the table and started wolfing dinner down. The entire cook had taken three and a half hours and it was gone in about ten minutes. But they were fed, the chickens were cooked, and all ended well!
The pros: The chicken was as moist as it could have possibly been. I took the second chicken, pulled it, and mixed in some of my BBQ sauce so that we could have BBQ chicken sandwiches for dinner tomorrow which made my wife VERY happy because she didn’t know when she was going to be able to cook. So moist chicken and brownie points…sweet!
The cons: The TIME and TEMPERATURE. The recipe said to cook at 300 which is what it read at first on the dome but I didn’t have a thermometer on the grill. On my cook last Friday, the dome temp was lower than the grill temp reading so I thought I would be fairly close if I looked for a 300 dome temp. It’s a mystery to me why the temp did not climb over 225. The embers were glowing so the fire hadn’t died and the holes were cleared of ash from the first cook. I wonder if perhaps I didn’t fill it up enough with lump. It was filled halfway which I thought would be plenty for a two hour cook but maybe it needed a bit more? The chickens, too, were a pound larger than what was called for which a) would account for the time and b) which made for a tighter fit in the bathtub if you catch my drift.
Would I do this again? Natch, but I’d go for smaller chickens, more lump, and use a probe both in the chicken and on the grill. For now, “Eggie” is back in the garage and both of us are wondering where to go next…