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direct or indirect for chicken

txav8rtxav8r Posts: 153
I am getting a good many conflicting reports regarding doing chicken, either spatchcock or beer can.  I don't really want to get into the debate on versions of how to cook a chicken, meaning upright or flat, but I do want to know what gives on the temp probe issues or direct/indirect.  I had several people tell me to cook to 160+ internal.  Short of opening and closing the dome 15 times, how do you do that without a probe in the thigh or breast?  I had my Mavrick ET-732, dual probe, used only twice now (brand new basically), go crazy on me on my 2 spatchcock chickens I did on Saturday.  They were dry but good.  The IT was between 190-200 with the thermapen when I probed them, but I cooked to an IT of 160 on the Mavrick meat probe.  I had issues keeping a steady temp at grate level.  I bought the adjustable rig from the CGS and used it the first time that night.  So the elevated position above the felt line could be a player in this, as well as the dome temp prob being closer to the meat (Tom at CGS told me to pull the spring clamp outside the dome to space the probe where it wouldn't read incorrectly.  But my grate and dome temps were close all through the cook, so I thought it was ok.  Anyway, I am perplexed and feeling that the direct cook method left a little something to be desired on the chicken.  I am up for moist and tender cooked to perfection and not so interested in crisp skin.  I am thinking I will do all my chicken indirect from now on, what say you? 
Just far enough north of DFW to be "rural"...and close enough to be urban, depending on my mood.

Comments

  • ads75ads75 Posts: 177
    I typically do whole chickens indirect, beer can or spatchcocked, never had an issue. Although I do want to try a direct spatchcocked.  Usually I am around 400.

    Drum sticks for me have always been indirect, around 400, for 40-45 minutes, never an issue. I usually do boneless, skinless thighs direct, since they only take a few minutes, although a few times I have dried them out.

    I've only used my Maverick a couple times, and never for chicken, so I have no advice there.
    Large BGE, Mini BGE
    Morgantown, PA
  • I do chicken direct on a raised grid in the 350-400* range. I guess the only advantages, over indirect, is a shorter cook and possibly crisper skin. I usually do spacthcock and have done it both with and without the Maverick.

    When I am not using my Maverick I usually don't start checking for doneness until 40-45 minutes in; so, there's really no need to be opening the dome 15 times.

    Nothing wrong with going indirect if that's what produces the results that you want.


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  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 5,780
    Most chickens, other than the huge Frankenbirds are too small to use the Mav food probe. Either vertical or spatched the cook time should be about the same. 
    I like raised direct at 350-400º dome, and I always spatchcock the bird. 
    For the first 30 minutes, no need to open the dome. After that I check with the Thermapen every 5-10 minutes depending on the first reading. 
    If you do indirect vertically, try inverting the bird, legs up. Does a better job on the dark meat without overcooking the breast. 
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • Most chickens, other than the huge Frankenbirds are too small to use the Mav food probe. Either vertical or spatched the cook time should be about the same. 
    I like raised direct at 350-400º dome, and I always spatchcock the bird. 
    For the first 30 minutes, no need to open the dome. After that I check with the Thermapen every 5-10 minutes depending on the first reading. 
    If you do indirect vertically, try inverting the bird, legs up. Does a better job on the dark meat without overcooking the breast. 
    You're right about the size @Skiddymarker. I've, recently, been getting capons from a local supplier and they run a little over 7lbs. each. I've used my Maverick on those.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Well, "spa-Peggy" is kind of like spaghetti. I'm not sure what Peggy does different, if anything. But it's the one dish she's kind of made her own.
    ____________________
    Aurora, Ontario, Canada
  • txav8rtxav8r Posts: 153
    Admittedly, opening 15 times is an eggzageration!  I just like the science of cooking to temp.  But I guess even doing steaks, breasts, or even whole chicken can be estimated to the point where you only open when it gets on the low side of "almost there", and use the pen then.  Man, my temps just were hard to control in this cook.  When I fired the egg up, it seemed to take forever to increase.  So I kept opening the dampers more.  One minute it was at 375 and I knew I wanted to allow for dome open time to put the chicken on, so I let her climb (not watching close enough I guess), hoping to put them on at about 425 and then hold at 400 for the cook.  I caught it about 465!  And it took forever it seemed to get it to come back down to anywhere near 425.  I kept closing down the dampers...so when it finally did get back down to 425, it dropped off and stayed below 400 for most of the cook.  Direct at whatever temp I averaged, took less than 45 minutes before I had overcooked them.  It really bummed me out because after the first cook, I thought it would be easy.
    Just far enough north of DFW to be "rural"...and close enough to be urban, depending on my mood.
  • MickeyMickey Posts: 14,217
    edited October 2013
    Spatchcock 400 Direct Raised Cook to temp Skin side up Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
    Salado TX Egg Family: 2 Large and a very well used Mini.... 5th Salado EggFest is March 14, 2015

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,341
    If you're gonna do a whole bird, do it indirect.  Spatchcock, raised direct.   Cook until the thickest, coolest part of the breast is 150-155F.   It'll rise to 160.   I do sous vide breasts at 145.  The dark meat you want to cook more to break down collagen and connective tissue - 170-180 F and it's tender.  You can orient the dark meat so it cooks faster - generally the farther up in the dome and farther back on the egg is hotter. 

    The hotter you cook, the higher the rise.  Keep that in mind to estimate your target "done" temp.
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  • I always go indirect. The birds just look better.
    image.jpg
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    Dave - Austin, TX
  • DMWDMW Posts: 3,941
    Spatchcok Raised direct. @Mickey seems to be the master, have tried to model mine after his. Will be doing 2 on Thursday night.
  • txav8rtxav8r Posts: 153
    I also wasn't too pleased with the rub.  I did the coffee rub, and it wasn't great.  But the proportions were listed so rough, I don't know if I mess that up in the process.  Going to look for a new rub in the future.
    Just far enough north of DFW to be "rural"...and close enough to be urban, depending on my mood.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,237
    Couple of additional comments.

    I had a dual probe Maverick, don't remember the model. Gave up using it after burning out the probe wires a few times. But prior to that, I found that the meat probe gave such different readings depending on placement. Toward the end, I only used the grill level probe to help me learn the usual differences between dome and grill level temps.

    Early on, I had lots of temp control problems. One of the things you ran into was an overheating issue. The ceramics can take a long time to heat up, but once they do, the heat can remain for hours. To speed the heating process, it is possible, if not advisable, to keep the vents open wider than they need to be, but shut down as soon as you reach the target temp. The temp will continue to rise and/or hold steady for awhile, but will come down in a reasonable amount of time.

    A very important thing to note is the difference between direct and indirect. Most of the heat coming out of the lump is IR radiation. When cooking direct, the side of the food facing the lump is getting much hotter than the side being heated by air temperature. And, because the intensity of the IR drops off rapidly with distance, a cook at the felt line will get about half as much as one at the fire ring. To a certain extent, when cooking direct, the dome therm reading is just a vague reference.

    Indirect limits the heat to what the air can provide. Assuming the food is completely shielded from the IR, and not over the open spaces where the air is rising from the lump, the food will cook much more evenly.

    As a FWIW, unless I want to make a presentation, I don't cook whole birds any more. To many variables to control to get an even result. Spatching helps even the cross section, but still cooks somewhat unevenly.

    If you want to get really "scientific," look into sous vide cooking. The foods can be brought to exactly the temp desired, and held there. Then, a quick finishing sear on the egg creates spectacular browning. Alternatively, smoking ribs for a few hours in the Egg, and then placing them in a bag  in the water bath will insure they are not over cooked, and intensify the smoke flavor.
  • KingtUTKingtUT Posts: 112

    I did my first spatchcock last week.  I went with a raised grid direct and 350 ish degrees.  This was a 7-8 lb bird and I cooked each side for 30 minutes then basted with BBQ sauce on each side for another 10 minutes per side.  The skin wasnt as crispy as I would have liked but I didnt have time to prep the chicken, it went from the store shelf to the grill in less than 2 hours.  As far as the temperature of the meat goes, it couldnt have been better. I was 165-170 in the breast and around 190 in the thigh.  Very, very juicy!!  My next attempt will include a smaller bird with at least one night day to dry out in the fridge, raised grid direct, and 425 degrees for roughly 20 minutes per side im guessing.

  • JRWhiteeJRWhitee Posts: 1,952
    I do spatchcocked birds raised direct 380-400 always turn out great. Pull when white meat is 150+ and dark 175+ takes around an hour.
                                                                        
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  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,132
    If you're gonna do a whole bird, do it indirect.  Spatchcock, raised direct.   Cook until the thickest, coolest part of the breast is 150-155F.   It'll rise to 160.   I do sous vide breasts at 145.  The dark meat you want to cook more to break down collagen and connective tissue - 170-180 F and it's tender.  You can orient the dark meat so it cooks faster - generally the farther up in the dome and farther back on the egg is hotter. 

    The hotter you cook, the higher the rise.  Keep that in mind to estimate your target "done" temp.
    I do the same general game plan, but target 155 - 160* in the breast. Maybe I'll target the lower end and retest after 2 minutes and see how it does. 

     400* to 425* raised direct or 375* indirect (whole bird) works well for me.  Doing skinless breasts on the medium I've found they brown up nicely w/o burning just using the normal height. However, I don't fill the charcoal to the brim, so I may be achieving the same bird to fire distance as raised direct and a full load of charcoal.
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • txav8rtxav8r Posts: 153
    @gdenby, I read what you said about the mavrick and it lead me to some pros and cons in other posts. I found a very negative post from someone having tried it only once. I have very good results on my brisket cook, and I just didn't get the direct cook issues. So I called Mavrick...they insisted on replacing both my probes immediately, free of charge, and since I was on the road, I didn't even have the purchase info with me. She said I would have them in 3 to 5 business days. I asked what could have happened, and after a pretty good discussion, I now understand that they recommend their probe cables be wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil. I had not done that. The also recommend drilling a hole in the grill and running the probe and cable through there...I WON'T be doing that. She cautioned that the lid closing could crimp and damage a cable. I think this speaks volumns for making sure both the top and bottom gasket are in good order, or you definitely would need to consider a different type of temperature probe unit. I am not overly pleased that I have to wrap the cables but it I don't know what the other manufacturers require either. Bottom line, I am going to give the unit plenty of time to make sure I did something wrong and it not being the unit, cables, or probes themselves. Since it worked once flawlessly, I am guessing sheilding the wire will get better results for me. I also think I am going to try an indirect cook on the birds next time and maybe only one at a time. I will also do just breasts, but I am after the tender, juicy, promise I read so much about on here. I know I can do it! I too understand that cooking chicken is not like a brisket...but what about my Thanksgiving turkey...that has to roast for hours, and I need a steady temperature. I have to assume that indirect is the way to go, to keep the temperature more constant throughtout the cooker, vs only the grid temp you guys mention. I am hoping some of you will reassure me on the T-bird cook...it has to be good, no exceptions!
    Just far enough north of DFW to be "rural"...and close enough to be urban, depending on my mood.
  • WolfpackWolfpack Posts: 1,025

    I will go raised direct- start skin side down for 15 min and then flip.  Really more for color as the skin gets pretty crispy when facing up too.

     

     

    Greensboro, NC
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