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July 12 – Bachelor Night Dinner

12 Jul

Meat: Top Sirloin. CAB from Piggly Wiggly

Seasoning: Salt, Pepper & Dizzy Dust

Grill: Weber Q320

Temperature: 450

Cooking Time: 8 minutes

Finish Temp: Approx. 120

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4th of July a Bit Humdrum this Year: Just Some Chicken Wings

7 Jul

Usually we go to Turk Lake in rural Central Michigan for the week of 4th of July. The 4th of July at Turk Lake my friend Steve and I have, for seven or eight years now, served as the pit masters of Turk Lake. We started out cooking ribs over an open fire pit. We graduated to Weber kettle grills and Boston Butts, then we stepped it up a bit and started cooking butts, ribs and chicken on Weber Smokey Mountain smokers. We both now have added the likes of Big Green Eggs, Kamado Joes, Primo XL Ovals and Traeger Texas grills to our cooker collection. We both judge barbecue contests and talk about getting together a couple time a year to compete. We have endured heat, rain and, one year, a faux-Weber kettle grill with a hinged lid that got caught in a gust of wind with the lid open and skated across the yard like a sailing skiff on white capped water. Two years ago, we endured, on July 3rd, the death of Steve’s father-in-law and my great friend Jerry Wabeke. We look forward to these 4th of July cooks, plan them for months, and discuss for days ahead of time where our meat is going to come from, what kind of fuel we are going to use and the favors of smoke wood we will add to the fire. We contemplate sauce and rubs and, of course, plan the course of beverages for the day. There are other foods, of course: corn, baked beans, squash, zucchini, slaw, maybe a congealed salad or two and desserts. Nice, sure, but the meat is the star of the day, and we are the star-makers.

This year, however, we did not get to Turk Lake. It was nothing bad that kept us away. To the contrary, my beautiful wife has a great new job and it was just too soon for her to take a week off. So the 4th was spent at home, very low-key and simple. Lunch out at a Mexican restaurant (who knew so many Mexican food restaurants would be closed on the 4th of July?), some grilled chicken wings for dinner and some dessert that Missy or Meredith would cook up – brownies or chocolate chip cookies perhaps. Low-key and definitely not Turk Lake. Still, the day took an upturn when Melanie called to say she would be home for dinner and would be spending the night. So, while not sitting on the pontoon in the middle of the lake watching neighbors on opposite sides of the lake shooting fireworks arcs across the lake toward each other, we were nevertheless together as a family.

The wings? This is a cooking blog after all. Marinated in mojo criollo, seasoned with Bad Byron’s Butt Rub, cooked at 375 indirect over lump and pecan then finished direct to add crust, all on the Primo XL Oval cooker. Boneless skinless chicken breasts, too, marinated in the mojo, grilled direct for about 8 minutes a side. Results: wings were demolished, but the better choice was, perhaps, the chicken breasts. The mojo will light up some ordinary chicken.

Highlight of the day, food-wise, was the girls dessert. Using brownie mix, chocolate cookie dough, small Reese’s cups and a muffin tin, they put together a brownie concoction that set my myfitnesspal.com back three weeks.

After the brownies (and a big glass of milk) the girls engaged in their customary loud and rambunctious horse-play. So, while it was not the typical 4th, and while I hated missing out on the big cook and spending the week at the lake, it was a good day.

Still, next year, and the next, and for the next 40 years or so, I DO plan to be cooking barbecue, with Steve, AT Turk Lake!

Wings on the Primo XL Oval:

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In Memoriam: Hollis Coffman Smith (1921 – 2012)

24 Jun

On June 16, 2012, my dad Hollis Coffman Smith passed away. He was 90 years old and had been ill for over a year. His passing was not unexpected nor was it un-planned for. My brother, mother and I all had made peace with the inevitability of his death some time ago. Still, his death was sudden and despite the expectations and planning, it still was a shock for my family. When word came from the nursing home were Dad had lived for the past 16 months, my brother and I started scrambling to get from where we were to where we needed to be. I was able to get to the farm late the next afternoon, while my brother made it in the following afternoon, thanks to packed flights and perhaps less than helpful airline personnel. Still, we managed to get to the farm, spend time with Mother, make the arrangements and plan a funeral service, then greet friends and family. It was a long and stressful week. Still, being together in the place we grew up with our respective families was soothing for brother and me.

I knew on Sunday when I got to the farm, there likely wouldn’t be anything thawed for dinner and there isn’t any place much to eat out in the country near the farm. I also knew that we would need to feed family and friends and that there would be a lot of food delivered to the house over the next few days, there was something I needed to cook. So, on my way to the farm, I grabbed some steaks out of the freezer and stopped to buy a couple of Boston butts.

My plan was to cook the steaks for my Mother and nephew Sunday night, then cook the butts on Monday to have at the house for the rest of the week. Now, one thing I’ve never had to worry about at the farm is having cooking appliances for smoking and grilling. My Dad was a life-long collector of grills and smokers – so I come by my habit honestly. At the farm, there probably are a half dozen grills, at least three smokers in various sizes and of various designs and perhaps a dozen “potential” grills and smokers. These “potential” grills and smokers are large and small metal fabrications that once served another purpose but which my Dad, in his eye, could see the potential for the conversion of the item into a grill or smoker. Add to that about a half-dozen or so “fish cookers” designed to heat oil with propane for frying fish and you get a pretty good idea of the way Hollis collected grills.

To my Dad, no cooking device was beyond salvation. He had for many years two Weber “Smokey Joe” mini-kettle grills that were abandoned in campgrounds because the sockets where the legs attached to the bowl of the grills had rusted out. Dad figured out that the little grills would fit perfectly into metal milk crates that used to be plentiful on the farm, so he sat them into the milk crates and they continued to cook campground dinners as Mom and Dad traveled in one of their Airstreams for years to come. One of my Dad’s smokers, a 30+ year old “bullet” smoker, has a pan in the bottom of the lower section that holds the charcoal. When I went to use it a couple of years ago, I notice that the bottom of the bowl had rusted out. No problem: Dad simply fashioned a replacement bottom out of some ultra- heavy sheet aluminum to cover the rusted out spots in the charcoal bowl and never missed a beat.

From my Dad, I acquired my love of the grill at an early age. I have photos of my Dad grilling steaks in his trademark low-back overalls on a little cast-aluminum kettle grill. I don’t remember the brand-name, but had a chance to buy one out of a lady’s front yard a few years ago and didn’t do it – I wish I had. I loved watching Dad grill steaks – he only turned them once – and burgers. These were the most frequent grilled menu items at our house, and I looked forward to those nights with an anticipation that can hardly be described in any terms other than “drooling.” The steaks were almost always sirloins – and not the “top sirloin” cuts that you see in stores now, but full-cut sirloins, with a piece of tenderloin attached and with bones that ranged from small and circular to perhaps four inches long. The meat nearest the bone was always the most tender, and I loved it when I got to “gnaw” the bone! I also learned from my Dad that steaks should be served medium-rare. Burgers were thick, with plenty of fat and would come off the grill with a crisp and tasty crust, cooked no more than medium. Add a Sunbeam bun, a health slice of sweet onion and fresh tomato from Dad’s garden, and there was little on earth that could compare to that the taste of those burgers.

Indeed, Dad was a grill sergeant. He was confident and poised around a grill, was constantly experimenting and I only recall one – exactly one – grilling disaster, and that was not his fault. George, the white German Shepard that was my constant childhood companion, once swiped a sirloin off Dad’s grill when he came inside to refresh his bourbon. We laughed about that for years to come – although it was not quite so humorous that night when we had to stretch one sirloin to feed the family and a couple of special guests!

Dad also cooked more than his share of Boston butts over the years, often with his greatest of friends Homer Neal Lewis in the carport of the Lewis’ house in Auburn, Alabama the night before an Auburn football game. There weren’t any thermometers on the 55-gallon drum grill that Neal kept on his carport, and nobody owned a Thermapen, either. Everything was done by instinct and feel and smell. The cooking was “hot and fast” and the barbequed pork always had a crisp and tasty bark that softened just enough when tossed with Neal’s wife Eloise’s homemade BBQ sauce. The meat was served on game day – we didn’t tailgate then like we do now – at the Lewis house and a dozen or more guests, family and friends would always rotate through the house before the game and more still would come by after the game. The menu was always the same, was always delicious and there was always plenty to eat.

Perhaps, however, Dad was most skilled at cooking barbequed chicken. There was no shortage of chicken cookers, depending on the size of the crowd he was cooking for. The “pits” ranged from the aforementioned bullet smoker/Weber Smokey Mountain wannabe to a couple of heavy metal “box” pits that Dad had made in the welding shop at the vocational school where he was the director. Those box pits are still in use (and one of them will be the subject of an upcoming post) and could cook a dozen or more chickens at a time. The cooking was low and slow with the chickens. They were cooked in halves and they cooked for about 4 hours over Ole Diz charcoal (always Ole Diz charcoal – I asked him why Old Diz once and he replied “because it’s cheap!”) and near the end of the cook, when the chicken halves were almost ready (when the leg would turn freely in the socket), Dad would take each half chicken and “dunk” it in a large pot containing Momma’s version of Eloise Lewis’ barbeque sauce. The chicken would then go back on the smoker until the sauce set. Sometimes, the chicken would get just the slightest bit of char on the skin, which made it especially tasty. My beautiful wife, Melissa, now a vegetarian (go figure) says to this day the best chicken she has ever eaten was cooked on Daddy’s back porch on the bullet smoker with the assistance of Dad’s longtime friend Dan Lott.

One of my favorite memories of Dad’s barbequed chicken was from my high-school years – more precisely, from my Junior Prom. My date and I both were wearing white. She was wearing a long white dress with some colorful stitching on the front while I was wearing a pure white tuxedo – we were stylin’. Mom and Dad offered to cook dinner for us before the prom and because I was perpetually broke in those days (bagging groceries at Winn-Dixie did not prepare one for a fancy dinner on the town), we quickly accepted. I was so busy making preparations for the prom and working the day of the dance, I didn’t pay any attention to the menu for the evening. When my date and I arrived for dinner, we discovered that Dad had cooked – you guessed it – Barbequed Chicken, just dripping with tomato based barbeque sauce. I think we covered ourselves with t-shirts or football jerseys or something so we wouldn’t end up wearing our dinner to the prom because as anyone who has eaten barbeque chicken can attest, if you aren’t wearing some of it on your clothes afterward, you didn’t do it right.

These stories go on-and-on – sometimes, my wife might say “on-and-on-and-on-and-on” and she might be right. But the memories are precious to me, and from these few stories of my Dad and his grills, you might be able to see where I got my love of grilling and collecting.

God Bless You, Daddy. We love you and we miss you. May you rest in peace and may all the Saints in Heaven enjoy your barbeque chicken with Eloise’s barbeque sauce as much as we did here on earth.

After School (or Work) Cookin’ on the Kamado Joe

29 May

Used to be that for a school week or work week grillin’, I would come home and fire up the Weber Genesis or the Weber Q220 or Q320. Those are wonderful grills and in 10 minutes, max, they will heat up and be ready to cook.

However, as fond of them as I am, they do not use charcoal and while gas grilled beats pan seared, oven roasted steaks any day, charcoal grilled steaks beat gas grilled steaks hands down (in my humble opinion, lest we start a blog war). The perception is, however, that it takes too long to fire up a charcoal grill. I’m not sure that is true under ordinary, chimney starter charcoal lighting circumstances, but I KNOW that isn’t the case when you happen to have a propane powered torch nearby! With a long handled propane torch ( check in the welding supply area at Lowe’s) or a weed burner ( bigger ) I can have a Kamado Joe full of lump charcoal lot in about 5 minutes.

Tonight I came straight in from work and hit the lump left over from last night’s pizza cook with the propane torch for about 5 minutes, went inside and changed clothes, poured a cold beverage, and came back to the patio. The Kamado Joe was at 500 degrees and ready for some steaks. I am now enjoying that beverage and waiting until 6:10 to put the steaks on so they will have 10 minutes to cook and a few minutes to rest before the announced dinner time of 6:30.

That is just as fast as any of my gas grills and with a lump of pecan tossed in on top of the lump in the Kamado Joe, I will get flavor not possible on my gas grills.

My technique is simple: steaks on for 3 minutes (rotate half way through if you like cross-hatched grill marks), flip, wait three minutes. Then remove the steaks to a platter. I put a 10 inch metal pizza plate on the grill, put the elevated Kamado Joe second grate on the cooker, and put the steaks on the elevated grate, over the pizza plate, and finish the steaks indirect to get a good, even degree of doneness throughout. Start checking temps on 1 1/4 inch steaks after about 4 minutes on the elevated grate. Once the steaks get over 100 degrees internal, the temps rise quickly. I pull the steaks around 120 internal and let them rest for at least 5 minutes then destroy them!

Great way to finish any work day!

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“EPIC (Shrimp Burger) FAIL!”

28 Apr

Coming off of the week’s “Massive Butt Cook” – chronicled here earlier in the week – I was ready to get a grill fired up tonight. We had some buns left over from the BBQ sharing and I had a hankerin’ for some good hamburgers. When I suggested hamburgers for tonight’s dinner, Melissa countered with Shrimp Burgers. It was a good idea. After all, Meredith likes Shrimp Burgers and and Melissa eats shrimp as part of her vegetarian regime. Shrimp Burgers are healthier for us than the 80/20 Ground Chuck hamburgers that I prefer, and there is a saying I’ve heard somewhere that goes something like “Happy Wife! Happy Life!” So, Shrimp Burgers it was.

Now, here’s the problem: shrimp do not particularly like to be formed into patties! They require some cajoling, some binding and some luck to stay together on the grill. Whereas 80/20 ground chuck pretty much hangs in there for the duration of the cookeration, Shrimp Burgers are always a bit of a mystery. I have a basic recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Summer Grilling special edition from a couple of years ago, and on the surface, it seems simple: 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup mayo, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon zest, scallions, some parsley if its available. Toss the shrimp into the food processor, roughly chop, then transfer to a bowl, blend in other ingredients and form into patties. Yeah, so simple. And yet….

I knew I was in trouble when I formed up the patties and they didn’t stick to my hand like they normally do. Instead they were a bit moist – well, wet actually. I was hoping that they would “set up” a bit in the freezer before they went onto the grill, but I should have tossed them all back into the bowl, added some more bread crumbs and started over, but noooooooo…… that would have made too much sense.

Instead, I fired up the Kamado Joe – damn good cooker it is – and got the temp to 400 degrees, where I wanted it. The squash, zucchini and onion skewers went on and off the grill nicely, charring up on the edges just like they should. Seasoned with salt, pepper and Cavender’s Greek seasoning, they had a nice, satisfying spicy taste and a little carmelization and char to boot.

Then it was time for the shrimp burgers. I was able to get them onto my grill grate without any incident thanks, it appears, to the patties being about half frozen from hanging out in the freezer for about half an hour. So far so good. A little pause for some refreshment, and it was time to flip.

And the trouble began. The first patty I tried to flip started to fall apart as I picked it up. It was just too damned moist. I got it flipped and then waited a bit before trying to flip the others. The flip of those patties did NOT go well. While I was able to get them turned over without the patties coming completely apart, the “burgers” now looked more like “loose meat sandwich filling.” At this point, I probably should have cut my losses, shut down the Kamado Joe and loaded the family into the Smith Family Truckster and headed off to the nearest Mexican establishment, but no….we went forward.

The “patties” were eaten, and when the bun was topped with the “filling” (formerly known as shimp patties) along with a Pepper Place fresh tomato slice, some leaf lettuce, a slice of purple onion, and a dash of mayo, prepared horseradish and Alecia’s Tomato Chutney (my redneck version of tomato chutney aioli), they were indeed tasty.

However, the effort was, due to the disastrous nature of the “patties,” an epic fail” – as the current vernacular calls a calamity of the scale of this cook. I do like Shrimp Burgers, but the next time they are on the menu at our house, Melissa will have to do the honors of making the patties. I will man the grill.

As it stands now, I can’t let the weekend grilling end on that note. Tomorrow night will indeed involve firing up the Kamado Joe and cooking something that I can pull off successfully…..maybe those nice 80/20 ground chuck burgers will get cooked this weekend after all!

Beef from “Happy Cows”

14 Apr

Those of you who know the BBQ, Esq. family know that Mrs. BBQ, Esq., is a seafood eating vegetarian. Her journey from carnivore to vegetarian began not for reasons of health, but rather, out of her concern for animal welfare. She heard, or saw, one of the expose’ pieces about the very worst practices in beef processing and decided she could not support an industry that treated animals in the way described in the report. We have had many discussions about the meat and poultry processing industries and we have largely agreed to disagree, but earlier this year, I conceded that I would attempt to locate a supplier of pasture raised, grass fed (and possibly grain finished), anti-biotic free beef, what I dubbed as beef from “happy cows.”

She is not crazy about the final journey any animal makes from “happy cow” to medium rare rib-eye, but she feels better knowing that my rib-eye was not raised in warehouse like conditions in which SOME commercially raised beef may be produced. I’m not taking on the whole commercial beef industry thing, and I’m not getting political or anything. I just want to eat a good steak and make Mrs. BBQ, Esq. feel a bit better about what I eat.

Well, the path to Happy Cows was not as easy as it might sound. Despite seeing many beef cattle roaming many pastures as I drive around the State of Alabama, figuring out how to get one of those frolicking bovines onto one of my grills proved to be rather difficult. I searched the CSA sites and Googled “pasture raised” and “grass fed” cattle.

Finally, I found http://www.freshfully.com – a virtual CSA promoting Alabama meat, seafood and produce and emphasizing sustainably-raised and organically farmed products.

I purchased a small quantity of beef – a couple of rib eyes and t-bones – from an Alabama farmer. The beef wasn’t cheap, but I had prepared myself for that and was willing to pay more than the going rate for commercially produced beef (which is high enough these days in and of itself). Today I went to pick up the beef and to say I was disappointed was a bit of an understatement. The rib-eyes were about 8 oz each and were thin. The t-bones were not available so the farmer substituted a package of strip steaks that were quite thin (I’m contemplating how I am going to cook those) and tossed in a dozen farm fresh eggs to even up the deal. I am guessing that the eggs might be the best part of the acquisition.

Leaving the farmer’s market, I saw a sign for “Holmestead Beef,” “Holmesgrown in Perry County, Alabama by J. Cooper Holmes.” I decided to see if the beef Cooper and his wife had for sale was more visually appealing that what I had purchased earlier. Turns out, it was! I ended up purchasing a pack of two, inch and half thick bone-in rib-eyes. For the record, on my patio, an inch and a half is the appropriate thickness for a rib-eye steak. Much more pleased with this purchase – and with the personable Mr. and Mrs. Cooper – I headed home, contemplating how to respectfully prepare these nice looking steaks.

I thawed the steaks and decided that, because they were grass-fed, with less of the visible marbling that we all are accustomed to in rib-eyes, I would use a little bit of briny-like Dale’s Marinade and then dry that off and season with Greek seasoning – one of my favorite steak seasonings.

I decided to cook on one of the Weber Kettle grills on the patio using good old-fashioned Kingsford charcoal. I opted for the kettle instead of one of the ceramic cookers and natural lump because Mrs. BBQ, Esq., had pressure washed the patio and the grills had not yet been restored to their usual locations. Still, there is nothing disgraceful about a Weber One-Touch Gold mounted in a table and Kingsford charcoal. Adding a couple of chunks of Pecan for flavor, I lit a chimney of charcoal and when ready, spread it out over half of the charcoal grate for two-zone cooking.

Because the steaks were cut to an appropriate thickness, I decided to do a reverse sear cook. I cut the top and bottom vents down to about one-half to get the temperature to stabilize at about 350. I put the rib-eyes on the cool side of the grill, closed the lid – and had a Jim Beam. I like the reverse sear technique because it yields wonderful results on appropriately thick steaks and because it allows ample time for a beverage, or perhaps two, while the meat is roasting on the cool side of the grill.

After about 20 minutes – or one beverage – the steaks were just topping 100 degrees. I removed the steaks to a platter and let them rest, opened the bottom vent on the Weber and let the temperature come back up to well over 400 degrees as the oxygen hit the briquettes.

When the coals were once again glowing red and the fire was hot, I seared the steaks over the hot coals for maybe two minutes a side, or until it “felt right” and a peek at the steak showed that the surface of the steaks was nicely charred to a deep mahogany (but not black) color. The meat temperature when I took the steaks off the grill was just barely over 120 degrees.

I usually will take thick steaks to 125 degrees internal temperature, figuring the internal temperature will continue to rise by between 5 and 10 degrees after they go to the platter. Because this was grass-fed beef, I wanted to get them off the grill a bit sooner so they would finish at a lower temperature than conventional beef. My theory was that the lower fat content would require a lower finish temperature to keep the beef from being dry and chewy.

The rest was pretty close to 10 minutes while I finished up some par -cooked red potato wedges on the grill and cooked a fillet of Scamp Grouper from my favorite fish monger (The Snapper Grabber) for Mrs. BBQ, Esq.

So, what was the verdict? I also cooked a nice Certified Angus Beef (“CAB”) USDA Choice Chuck-Eye steak as a “control steak” to compare to the grass-fed, pasture-raised steak. The rib-eye turned out amazing! The steak was a perfect medium-rare degree of doneness from one side to the other, with absolutely no bands of gray or brown at the edges of the steak. The flavor was different from the CAB control steak. The grass-fed steak had a more intense taste, with overtones that could be described as “nutty.” The tenderness was on a par with the CAB steak and the Greek seasoning worked just as well on the Holmestead Beef rib-eye as on the CAB steak. The combination of the cooking method, seasoning and the meat itself made this one of the best steak dinners of the year!

To be sure, the texture and flavor profile is different than that of a USDA Prime or Certified Angus Beef Rib-Eye, but it is no worse, just different. I won’t go to these steaks exclusively – I couldn’t afford to do that and eat as much beef as I do and I’m not thrilled with the possibility of eating less beef – but I suspect that I will order a nice steak or two from the Holmes family to pick up at Pepper Place a couple times or so a month and will look forward to and enjoy each of those steaks!

Here is a picture of the finished product. The Holmestead steak is on the left; the CAB “control” steak is on the right. There is a second Holmestead steak under the first one – that will be lunch tomorrow!

Rotisserie Chicken – BBQ 25 by Adam Perry Lang “Style”

31 Mar

As you know if you’ve read my little blog, I’ve occasionally been cooking selections from Adam Perry Lang’s Book “BBQ 25” in an attempt to cook my way through the book over the course of this year.

Earlier in the week, I decided to cook a rotisserie chicken this weekend. I had nice 4 lb fryer in the freezer so I thawed it out and started thinking about how I wanted to season it. Then I remembered that I was trying to cook through APL’s BBQ 25 so I took a look at the chicken selections in the book and found an Adam Perry Lang recipe for Whole Spatchcocked / Butterflied chicken. Spatchcocked chicken is a whole chicken that has had the backbone removed then butterflied open so that it lays flat during cooking. It allows for a quicker whole chicken cook and for the chicken to lie flat so that the entire surface area of the chicken can contact the grill grates. I like spatchcocked chicken, but I had wanted to to a rotisserie chicken on my Weber charcoal rotisserie because I like that the chicken self-bastes as it cooks and stays very moist. The longer cooking time also allows ample time for patio-induced relaxation and a cold beverage.

I thought about my dilemma: APL spatchcocked chicken or rotisserie chicken and then I decided “both!” I have a couple of wire mesh baskets that attach to my rotisserie spit and hold the meat being cooked firmly from both sides. I decided I could spatchcock my chicken and still cook it on the rotisserie.

I brined the chicken according to BBQ 25’s instructions – a minimum of three hours in a brine of water, salt, rosemary, thyme, oregano, pepper and a little canola oil. All of this, along with the chicken, went into a 2 gallon zip lock bag and into the fridge for about 4 hours.

The Weber charcoal rotisserie ring sits between the bowl of a Weber kettle grill and the grill’s lid and has mounting hardware for a rotisserie spit. The spit is designed specifically to fit the 22.5 inch rotisserie ring.

Generally when I’m cooking on the Weber rotisserie, I’m cooking at relatively low temperatures – between 300 and 400 degrees. To maintain a Weber kettle grill in this temperature range requires surprisingly little lit charcoal. I use something of a “Minion Method” technique with my charcoal in the rotisserie. I generally use briquettes on my Weber kettles and tonight I happened to have an open bag of regular Kingsford briquettes. I poured a couple of layers of briquettes alongside and parallel to where the spit would  be placed, then lit about a quarter of a chimney of briquettes. When the lit charcoal was glowing red, I dumped it on top of the layers of unlit and adjusted the vents, top and bottom, to about half open. While the temperature was stabilizing (it takes maybe 10 minutes), I removed the chicken from the brine, rinsed and dried the bird, then set about to remove the backbone by cutting alongside either side of the backbone with a sharp knife. I then flipped the bird breast side up and pressed down on the breastbone to break the cartilage between the two breast halves and used my knife to split the bird into two pieces along the breastbone. After than, I separated the thigh quarter of each half from the breast quarter, and seasoned both sides of each piece with Mrs. Dash salt-free onion and herb seasoning (this is not in the APL recipe, but I like rub and since the bird had brined, I didn’t want to introduce any more salt). Finally, I arranged the chicken pieces in the wire mesh rotisserie basket, clamped the top on the basket as tightly as I could so that all the pieces were held firmly in place and ran the rotisserie spit through the slots in each end of the basket, clamped the basket onto the spit with a pair of thumbscrews and headed to the grill.

By this time the temperature on the kettle rotisserie was about 350, which was in my range of cooking temperature (I would have been fine with an initial temperature of anywhere between 300 and 375 since I had plenty of time to cook). I added a couple of chunks of peach wood to the coals and then slid the rotisserie spit into place, replaced the kettle lid, flipped the switch on the rotisserie motor and settled into my chair.

I figured that the chicken would take about an hour and 15 minutes at 325 degrees. As it turned out, my temperature settled closer to 375 so after about 50 minutes, the chicken was very close to done. If I had pulled the chicken and let it rest, it probably would have gotten to 165 in the breast and 170 in the thigh, but I had some baste/glaze I wanted to get on the chicken so I let it turn just a little longer.

The baste/glaze from BBQ 25 consists of a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic cloves, lemon juice, honey, white wine vinegar and just a dash of water. I had made the glaze earlier and the last 10 minutes or so that the chicken was on the rotisserie, I glazed both sides of the chicken every two to three minutes. Finally, when the chicken had been on the cooker for about an hour, I stopped the rotisserie, took off the flat side of the rotisserie basket and removed the four pieces of chicken to a sheet pan, then glazed the top (skin) side of each piece with the remaining glaze.

Since I had mis-timed the cooking time on the chicken, our red potatoes weren’t quite ready when the chicken came off the cooker, so I put the sheet pan of chicken in the microwave to just sit and hang out until the potatoes were ready.

For serving (it was just me since Melissa is a vegetarian and Darling Daughter #2 was “hanging out” with a friend), I split one of the breast quarters into two pieces and ate one half of the breast and a leg quarter.

The chicken had a pleasing appearance. The color was a honey gold rather than the mahogany color my rotisserie chickens usually turn. I attributed this partially to the use of the peach wood rather than pecan and the shorter cooking time for the quartered chicken as compared to a chicken cooked whole on the rotisserie. The brine left the chicken moist and tender, and the flavors in the brine, combined with the flavors in the rub and the glaze, left the chicken with multiple flavor points, all of which complimented each other quite well. There were herb tones from the brine and rub, as well as bright tones from the lemon juice and just a hint of sweetness from the honey in the glaze. I normally accompany chicken – which can be bland – with some honey mustard or Alabama white dipping sauce. However, tonight, the Alabama white sauce from Billy’s Tavern sat quietly on the table. The chicken didn’t need any additional moisture or flavor. And the skin? Well, I carved the breast with a sharp steak knife, but the skin on the leg and the first bite from the thigh were bite through (YES!). On the second bite of the thigh, the skin shifted, but I wasn’t being very careful about from which direction I bit the thigh. I’m calling the skin “bite-through” and that is what I shoot for on every piece of chicken I cook!

Summary: like the other recipes I’ve cooked from Adam Perry Lang’s BBQ 25, the meat came out quite flavorful and well-seasoned. The chicken also was tender and tasty. Also like the other recipes I’ve tried, I gave the recipe a little bit of an interpretative twist – in this case by quartering the chicken and cooking it on the charcoal rotisserie. This recipe is a winner. I know I will use the brine recipe again, and I’m sure that the glaze will be a base for adding some additional flavors to my competition-style chicken legs and thighs. The rotisserie allows the meat to self baste and just adds a bit of fun to the cooking. Good recipe – good chicken – good meal!