Over the years we've made hundreds of different BBQ Chicken dishes from barbecue chicken thighs to bbq chicken wings to bbq chicken breasts. In all that time we worked through the ins and outs of using a charcoal grill, using a gas grill and using smoke related methods to make bbq chicken. This page is devoted to helping you make bbq chicken. We'll work through some basic details then we'll get into the process of barbecue versus grilling. Chicken when properly made through barbecue is fantastic as I'm sure you know but most people never know or understand just how easy it can be to make chicken using a grill. So, let's get started making bbq chicken.
The first part of the process involves understanding the methods and strategy for making bbq chicken. You'll need a few things to get the job done. We're going to assume a couple of things in this process. 1st, we'll assume you're going to use a grill in a well ventilated area. 2nd, we'll assume you've decided on the method you'll be using to make bbq chicken, either charcoal or gas. 3rd, we'll assume that you have enough time to get the job done, and by time we're talking 3 hours minimum. 4th, we'll assume you have the materials needed to properly prepare the chicken in advance of the bbq process such as mustard, dry rub seasonings, bbq sauce, marinade and a way to store the chicken while it is being prepared for the actual barbecue. To help the process along we've included a BBQ Chicken Recipe and a video on making Chicken and Ribs using the very popular Snake Method for BBQ Charcoal grills.
Let's start by selecting the Chicken. Freshness is important when selecting a chicken. If you're not using a butcher you'll want to check the code dates at your local grocer. Chicken has a relatively short life cycle in the refrigerated store cooler unless the chicken has been frozen. If at all possible and again assuming that you will make the bbq chicken within two days of this reading you'll want to select a chicken that is not frozen. If you've got a frozen chicken you'll need to properly thaw the chicken before grilling.
A word on the usage of terms "bbq" versus "grilling". Outside the bbq biz the terms are almost interchangeable. Although the two terms means completely different things within the bbq business world. The term grilling signifies the use of relatively high heat over a short period of time. Usually this process refers to gas grill units which can deliver temperatures well above 700 degrees for making and searing steaks. The term barbecue and abbreviated term bbq refers to a slow cooking process with moderate heat which which allows the meat a more natural transformative process from raw to cooked states. It is said that slower cooking of meats allows the melting of internal fats and thus results in a more tender finished product. Grilling can take 1 hour while barbecue can take 3 to 6 hours depending on the degree of tenderness one attempts to achieve.
If you purchased a frozen chicken you will need at least 3 hours or more to properly thaw the chicken. The best way to thaw a chicken is to first realize that there are basically two methods of thawing, cold and hot. For our method we'll use the warm to hot method by placing the chicken in a bowl or sink filled with slightly warm to warm water. Allow your faucet to run at a low rate into the sink adding additional warm water to offset the cold to warm exchange process as the chicken thaws. A completely frozen chicken will take at least 1 to 1-1/2 hours to thaw before use.
With a thawed chicken we will move onto the preparation process. We recommend cutting the chicken in half from the breast and at the backbone. Cutting the chicken in this way will speed up the time that a chicken needs to marinate, also if you're just one person you can choose to place half of the chicken in a bag and store it in the refrigerator for another day. Sometimes having a whole barbeuced chicken can be a bit much for one person. We suggest barbecue in moderation as the best method.
Next let's get the chicken marinated. First we'll take standard everyday non-fancy yellow mustard to cover the entire chicken half. If you've decided to reserve half the chicken you can marinate the reserved side as well to get a head start for later. This mustard process actually marinates the meat causing the muscle fibers to begin the process of opening up and breaking down which will also help when we add our dry rub seasonings or bbq sauce. After marinating we'll let the chicken rest at least an hour or more and overnight if you're planning on making your barbecue for the next day. Seasonings, we'll be using a selected dry rub seasoning, we like our California Chicken Dry Rub and will opt that out for our Tri Tip, Steak and Rib Dry Rub when necessary . Each product produces maximum flavor in a minimum period of time. Whichever you select you'll want to completely coat the chicken then wrap it again and allow the chicken to rest for another hour or two. If you have the time it would not hurt to rest the chicken in the dry rub overnight to ensure maximum flavor delivery. Once rested you'll note that the outer layer of the chicken appears moist as the dry rub has been absorbed into the meat. Add an additional layer of seasoning to build flavor before adding the chicken to the barbecue.
With the chicken prepared for barbecue it's time to consider the actual cooking unit. In the beginning of the outline we said we would be focusing on a charcoal grill. We like using charcoal simply because our focus is maximum flavor delivery to the chicken. We find that when we plan ahead giving us enough time to marinate and season the chicken the results are amazing. We also like using a method we call "Double Snake Method." This process is simply placing a layer of charcoal around the outer edges of the barbecue bottom plate. A small segment of charcoal is placed in the center of the barbecue and set a blaze then with time the briquettes begin to ash over. After about 20 minutes the charcoals are separated and evenly distributed between the two sections of outer lined charcoal.
In addition to the charcoal layer we add some smoking wood such as red oak or mesquite and even hickory to add flavor. The bottom of the grill should be wide open after the charcoal is lit so as to draw air from the bottom and upward through the barbecue. The lid of the barbecue should be placed on top of the unit with the vents wide open. Heat will build inside the barbecue container as the charcoals burn their way down. A single layered row of charcoal will last about 2 hours with an average temperature around 200 degrees. We want our temperature to average from 250 to 275 degrees and by adding the second row we will be able to achieve that. Once the temperature is achieved let's do two things. First, let's get a pie pan and place that in the middle of the barbecue on the bottom grate. It's a good idea to heat water until boiling then pour the water into the pan slowly just about to the top of the rim. With heat from both sides the water will begin to boil and the result is steam that rises underneath the chicken. This steam will add moisture to the chicken helping to make sure that it doesn't get too dry especially if you have a hard time managing the heat.
Second, after the addition of water let's get the barbecue top grate onto the unit then add the lid. Give the barbecue about 10 minutes to stabilize the temperature inside the unit. If you have a thermometer check to see that your desired temperature is achieved. Once the temperature is achieved and the chicken has been marinated let's bring out the chicken, remove the lid and place the chicken squarely in the middle between the two rows of charcoal. Now place the lid on and allow the cooking process to begin. After about 30 minutes check the temperature through the heat exiting the top vent. If the temperature is too high close the vent down by about half. Closing down the vents reduces the amount of oxygen flow and thus slows down the burning of charcoal lowering the temperature of the unit. If the temperature is too low you can add more charcoal to the unit. It's a good idea to get the charcoal started in a bbq chimney first letting cook through for about 20 minutes then carefully remove the top grate with the chicken then add a few pieces of charcoal to each side of your Double Snake.
Double Snake Method
The barbecue process for chicken will take about 2-1/2 to 3 hours. After about 2 hours begin checking the state of the chicken by sliding a thermometer into the chicken breast and also into the thigh of the chicken. The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends a minimum temperature for Chicken at 165 degrees Fahrenheit or 74 degrees Celsius (Temperature Cooking Chart). We like to be sure and cook the temperature up around 175 degrees. Cooking at a higher temperature will ensure that there are a bare minimum of red spots within the chicken at the joints in addition guests won't need to be as concerned that the entire chicken reached a reasonable level before it was removed.
Barbecue Sauce is perfect for chicken. While the chicken is within about 10 degrees of the desired temperature you can layer on a base of barbecue sauce. We prefer a bbq sauce with a little more vinegar to assist in delivering flavor during the cooking process. Our Really Good Mild BBQ Sauce is perfect for barbecue chicken with a lower level of sugars and is gluten free for those that are sensitive to gluten. Once the layer is on allow the chicken to cook for about 15 minutes. Check the temperature and if it has not reached the desired level add an additional layer of barbecue sauce and allow to continue cooking. Check after 10 additional minutes to ensure that the chicken is done. Allow the chicken at least 10 to 15 minutes to rest in a container or foil before serving. Enjoy.
We hope that you enjoyed our written outline of the process for Making BBQ Chicken. We've added links to our Dry Rubs and BBQ Sauce below. Contact Us directly should you have any questions on our process. We wish you all the best chicken you can make.
Dry Rubs and Sauces
Also, read more about our recipes.
Recipes and BBQ Sauces on our site.
This product was added to our catalog on Friday 29 September, 2017.