The grilling season is here and although it’s in our DNA to want to cook every meal outside when the weather is nice, throwing burgers and dogs on the barbie night after night gets old. So, I’m going to try and make things a little bit easier by sharing my go-to rules for preparing a tasty, juicy whole chicken grilled to perfection (my mouth is watering just thinking about it).
Rule #1: Chicken prep. Bring your chicken to room temperature, split it in half along the spine, and clean it well. Season it however you’d like; I recommend a liberal rub of Everglades Seasoning (while the company makes several varieties, including blends for fish and chicken, I always reach for the classic “All-Purpose Seasoning.”)
Rule #2: Light ‘er up! Get the grill good and hot. The key to grilling chicken so it cooks thoroughly without drying out is to have a grill with at least three separate burners; four is even better.
Rule #3: Drop ‘em. Place the two chicken halves on the grill to sear them; about 20 seconds on each side.
Rule #4: The critical step. Place the two chicken halves in the center of the grill, one to the front and the other to the back. Turn off the center burner/s and turn the two outside burners down to just a bit above low. Shut the lid. By turning off the center burner over which the chicken directly sits, you eliminate the heat source which typically results in those awful family-reunion-style grilled chicken sandwiches where the edges are burned, the outside is dry and tough, and the center is still pink. The side burners provide a nice, even, indirect heat that circulates around the chicken, cooking it slowly and evenly. Therefore, repeat after me: Shut the lid and keep it shut.
Rule #5: Wait it out. Let the chicken cook for approximately 30 minutes. (This amount of time is commensurate with about two or three beers; one episode of The Simpsons or This Old House; or roughly eight songs of medium length on your iPod … unless, of course, you’re listening to 1970s anthem rock, in which case you might have time for maybe two songs). Resist all urges to open the lid to continuously check on the chicken. After 30 minutes, you’ll need to flip the chicken over. Do so and then shut the lid. Wait another 30 minutes. This time around, however, you might want to slow down on your beer consumption.
Rule #6: Chow down. After an hour of cooking time, your chicken should be grilled to tasty perfection without being dry. If you stick a knife or fork into the joint where the leg meets the body, the juice should run clear. (If your chicken was cold when you put it on the grill, you’ll need to add up to 10 minutes per side in additional cooking time.)
The writer of The Balanced Guy, Roman Horoszewski, is not particularly balanced but he’s trying to be. He makes an effort by not only doing “guy stuff,” but also by spending time with his three sons and wife while attempting to remain informed about the world around him. He and his family live in the Princeton, N.J. area. His blog is at thebalancedguy.blogspot.com.