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Direct chicken advice!

Husker95Husker95 Posts: 20
edited 4:30AM in EggHead Forum
Need some advice on direct cooking chicken. I see a lot of great recipes in here for spatchcocked chicken and whole beer-can chicken cooked direct over med-high heat. I have a large BGE and when I have tried cooking chicken direct in the past, I wind up getting a lot of acrid black smoke when the drippings hit the coals. This causes my birds to be sooty and have a slightly acrid taste. My stuff works OK when cooked indirect, but would like to be able to get the full-effect of direct cooking as well. I do wait until the fire and temp have stabilized in the egg (30-45 mins) and im usually not getting much smoke at all from the coals when I put the bird on. Can anyone advise on a technique to avoid this? Thanks!


  • First, I trim off a lot of the excess fat and skin. Then I put my bird on a grid extender for direct cooks. I haven't noticed any adverse taste from cooking direct this way.

    Have you tried placing a foil dry drip pan beneath the bird?
  • I've never had luck with direct. I always cook my chicken spatchcock over the platesetter at about 425-450 for 1 - 1-1/2 hrs. Works out great but I can see wanting to have a little bit of blackened edges or grill markes.

    If you have good gloves, you could cook the chicken direct until you have established a good sear and then take everything out and put the platesetter in and finish the chicken indirect. This might be a good option.
  • I'm w/Forrest on this've got to trim off all the excess skin & fat from the lower cavity of the bird, and sometimes from the area around the neck as well. This will reduce flameups dramatically. A raised grid helps, too.
  • CecilCecil Posts: 771
    I do mine indirect but hot, around 500. That way everything gets nice,dark and crispy and the drippings go into a pan.

  • When cooking chicken direct, I always cook it on a raised grid. whether it's the whole bird or just parts. usually around 350. 400 you'll have to pay more attention. I never add smoke.

    Often I cook it with the daisy completely off, controlling the temp only from the draft door. 350 is right on the border between needing the daisy to control temps and not needing it. using the daisy didn't increase the smoky flavor.

    chicken is very susceptible to smoke and my family doesn't like smoke. My chicken has been coming out fine. When I figure out how to get perfect skin, that'll be another post!
  • I get pretty tasty skin by cooking skin-side down for 10-15 minutes, then flipping the bird and cooking it skin side up for the remaining time. Works for me...a restrained basting with herbed oil or butter about 15-20 minutes before it's done helps to nudge things toward the crispy.
  • I forgot about the 500 degree chicken!!

    I'll have to try that again!

    I used to do them vertical and when doing big birds the part near the dome chimney could get kinda charred
    Chicken is one of the easiest and most rewarding cooks on an egg. Direct, indirect, extended direct cooking all work out great if the chicken is cooked to temperature.

    The acrid smoke feel and taste is most likely due to your lump and or smoke wood not being stabilized. Introducing a lot of smoke wood after the egg is stabilized or allowing the smoke wood to ignite into flame when opening the dome for a few minutes will also increase the acrid affects you mentioned above.

    Once you have a light to clear blue smoke you are ready to cook. You will get the smoke into the bird without a heavy presence of smoke coming out of the egg.

    A visual guide to - Good & Bad Smoke

    For a extremely moist breast I cook the breast, legs and thighs to 165°. For a different texture and flavor I take the bird to 190°. Both produce a wonderful taste and texture.

    I use a raised grid on most all my cooking including chicken. If you don't have a way to go raised grid then lower the lump level in the egg and for the most part you will have the same effect. Whole chicken takes about 45 minutes to 1hr 25 minutes depending on the dome temperature. No matter the temperature always the same great tasting bird.

    I haven't bothered to trim any fat. I only wash the bird, pat dry, put some oil on the skin and coat the skin with the "rub of the day" (any rub I am in the mood for or that is easy to find).

    Here are some results with different cook temperatures.




    This is a long low and slow extremely raised direct cook. 225° grate& 16.5" from lump bed to food grate.



    All the above cooks will produce results like this.

    This link should be useful to you also. FAQ's and other Tips

  • CecilCecil Posts: 771
    I usually do them spatchcocked but sometimes I will just wash them and throw them on (watch out for grease in the cavity).

  • Hi Celeste-I tried that with a spatchcock chicken on Sunday. I think the bigger the birds are, the more difficult the skin is. I had an almost 7 lb bird and I went about 40 minutes skin down at 350 before I turned it over. Chicken was good but the skin was edible but not crispy. a very thin layer of the meat behind the skin had started to dry.
  • Spatchcock chicken is a family favorite and I have never had the problem you have described. I cook raised direct at approx 375, skin side up. Takes about an hour and is always mouth watering perfect. In the end though, I'd go with anything Grandpas Grub says...he's the Master.
  • i had issues with the chicken fat buring on the platesetter with a beer can chicken. wife did not like the taste. I thought I had it figured out. but didn't come out good. going to go back to spatchcocked, indirect. at 350-375..
    XL   Walled Lake, MI

  • I've been doing direct raised between 350 and 425 lately. Will need to try 500ish soon.
  • What's the approx cooking time at 500*? Can't be very long...
    I like spatchcock very much, just seems easier to do whole.

    For me it is about +/- 45 minutes if I want 160°. I always cook to temp.

    If I am cooking the bird to 190° I stay about 375° or below.

    Take some of the leftovers and make this

    Some the best eats ever.

  • GrumpaGrumpa Posts: 861
    Some great looking chicken Kent B)
  • MickeyMickey Posts: 18,737
    Do like Kent (GG) says. I go high in dome, skin up and never turn over. Direct.
    Salado TX Egg Family: 3 Large and a very well used Mini, added a Mini Max (I'm good for now). 

  • Rest my're the Master. Thanks for all the great advice...hope you are well on your way to recovery.
  • I have my butcher spatchcock my chicken. He did not know term spatchcock, but knew what butterfly was. I use my WOO3 (rising bird direct) at 350 around 1 to 1-1/2 temp depending on how long it takes to get breast to temp.
    No expert here by any means. These are just basic chicken cooks.

    Thanks, I am a long ways away from being better, but one step at a time and I will get there.

    Good point - high in the dome. Since I have got the AR, a long time ago, I haven't cooked at grid level more than a handful of times.

    There are a lot of great chicken cooks done by the forum members. Folks need to look at the recipe section as there are a lot of variations which are pretty darn good.

  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    Welcome to the neighborhood....

    It's weird you are getting black smoke, chicken fat usually produces white smoke. No disrespect here, but are you adding sauce to your chicken during the main part of the cook? The bitter flavor usually comes from a fire that has not settled down or from too much flavor wood.

    You have a good question, most folks think that a chicken cook is a no brainer, but the truth is... it's an involved cook. It's one of the few things that backyard barbecuists cook that is a whole animal, or one they can cut-up themselves. (okay seafood doesn't count here) The worst thing is, a chicken is made up of muscles that cook at different rates and are done at different temperatures. Think breast and thigh... The good thing is, once you master chicken, a lot of other things come easy.

    Back to your question.... the others that have recommended cooking with a raised grate have the logical answer as the height acts as a buffer to the heat, and allows a larger window for errors (like overcooking). That's how I cook most of mine, but before you take the easy way out, master the cook with the grate with the regular position. Then cooking raised direct will be simple. In fact start with skinless chicken and get it right, then move to skin-on chicken, then to halves, then to whole birds. Here are some boneless skinless breasts cooked direct with the grate in the regular position. I used a medium fire, they were turned often enough to balance the doneness and keep the color golden. I pulled them at 160°.

    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
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