Tag Archives: barbecue

Smoked Spatchcocked Chicken

26 Jul

Sometimes I do not, in fact, do all of the cooking around here. Occasionally, when he is blessed with the time and inclination, my husband will tackle a dish, and I could not be more pleased to watch him do so. Because that is what I do: I watch. Or, if I am feeling unencumbered in other areas of my life and I don’t need to catch up on work or mundane house-related tasks, I sit and read. What I don’t do is intervene. My husband is not a frequent cook, but he is an enthusiastic one, and I would never want to rob him of that quality. If I hovered around him and poked at things while he toiled away in semi-unfamiliar territory, I am sure that the only thing I would accomplish would be the act of making him super nervous and more than a little annoyed. If he has a question for me I answer it, but that’s about the extent of my involvement.

It only seems fitting, then, that the story of this recipe be told purely in pictures. I had a great time snapping process shots of this dish, in no small part because I was not the one making the dish, so I never had to stop what I was doing, rinse off my hands, position the camera, take a shot, and then go back to cooking. I just did what I always do when I am not the person cooking: I watched. And when the chicken was done, I did my most favorite thing of all: I ate the meal and I enjoyed it immensely. With the smoky flavor of the tender, herb-scented chicken, lightly glazed with a garlicky and sweet sauce, it was certainly the easiest part of the entire process.

Last Year: No Bake Fresh Peach Pie

Other adventures in smoking things include this foray into making smoked salmon at home and this experiment making smoked ribs, Indian-style.

Smoked Spatchcocked Chicken Recipe

Adapted only slightly from BBQ25 by Adam Perry Lang

Two 3 ½-4 pound chickens, spatchcocked (butterflied), thighs and legs slashed. To spatchcock a whole chicken, cut out both the entire backbone and the breastbone, then splay the chicken out flat and trim off any excess fat and tissue. Here is a good video tutorial on how to do so, though for this recipe you won’t need to cut the entire chicken in half as is done at the end of the video.

Ingredients for Brine:

¼ cup sea salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

10 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried

6 cups cold water

2 tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil

Ingredients for Baste/Glaze

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5 garlic cloves, crushed

juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon water

For Smoking:

2 cups of wood chips, soaked in cold water for 1 hour, then drained. We used apple wood chips, but alder wood or another mild wood would also work well.

Brine Chicken:

Combine all the brine ingredients in a large bowl or a large sealable plastic bag. Mix and crush the ingredients with your hands, directly or through the bag, squeezing them to release the maximum flavor. Transfer half the brine to another bowl or bag.

Put the chickens in the brine, transfer to the refrigerator, and brine for at least 3 hours, and up to 24 hours.

Smoking the Chickens:

Set up your grill for indirect grilling.  If you have a two burner gas grill, this will mean setting one burner on medium high heat and leaving the other burner off.  If you have a three burner gas grill, it will mean setting the two outermost burners on medium high heat and leaving the middle burner off.  If you have a charcoal grill, you will be raking your hot coals into two piles on opposite sides of the grill, leaving an empty space in between.  After preparing whichever grill you have, place a drip pan under the grates in the portion of the grill that is not lit or covered with hot coals. The temperature should be around 300 degrees.

Drain the chickens and dry with paper towels. Lightly rub the chickens all over with the canola oil.

Toss the pre-soaked wood chips onto hot coals (if using a charcoal grill), or, if using a gas grill, place wood chips in a smoker box made specifically for gas grills (such as this one), or wrap your wood chips in a tight pouch of aluminum foil with holes punched in the top (as demonstrated here), then place the box or pouch of wood chips under the grill grate, directly on top of a burner.

Put the chickens skin side up on the well-oiled preheated grill and cook, covered, for 45 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, combine all the baste/glaze ingredients in a small bowl.

Baste the chickens and continue to cook, covered, basting every 15 minutes, for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is done: the juices should run clear when a thigh is pierced, and the thickest part of the thigh should register 165 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer.

Transfer the chickens to a cutting board, skin side up, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting each chicken into 6 pieces (from each chicken there will be 2 breasts, 2 thighs, and two drumsticks).

Indian Spiced Smoked Spareribs

7 Jul

A few days ago, I picked up a book about slow barbecuing.  The book had been sitting on a dining room bookshelf for quite some time, having been brought home by my husband, a man with a deep interest in all varieties of meat preparation and consumption.  After glancing at the cover of the book for several weeks, I finally became curious as to what this book might offer in the way of secret insider barbecuing information, and sat down with the book with the intention of studying it.

Side note: Many years ago, I was convinced that every single book I started, I also had to finish.  No matter if I was enjoying the book or not, I felt, for reasons I am still unable to explain, compelled to slog through even the most boring and intolerable of books.  This went on for ages, until a coworker of mine happened to one day recommend to me a novel that involved cross-country travel on a bicycle, something in which I was, and still happen to be, interested.  So I started the book.  To get to the gist of what happened, I am going to edit out the slow and torturous ordeal of reading this book, and just tell you that, after all those years of practice of finishing books I did not enjoy, this particular book was so awful, so condescending in tone, and so ridiculous in character, that I, for the first time, was driven to not finish a book.  In fact, I not only didn’t finish that book, but I believe I may have, at one point, released an unpleasant and hearty groan as I chucked the book across the room and away from the earnest and somewhat tedious insistence of my prying eyes to keep chipping away at the book.

Aside from the part about rocketing the book away from my body, my reaction to that novel was pretty much a precursor to the reaction I had to reading the barbecuing book.

Why?  Why must people insist on making cooking into something that is inaccessible?  Why must cookbook writers look down upon their readers, and insist that their way, the intense, unbending way, is the only way?  Shouldn’t cooking be something that invites readers to share in a recipe?  Shouldn’t cooking be inspiring instead of belittling?  If you tell people, Mr. Barbecue Author, that the only way to make “real” barbecue is to buy a special smoker, only use lump charcoal, and never never use a gas grill while trying to make delicious barbecue, do you really think you are going to ignite a fire under people to go out and attempt your recipes?  And do you really think that I am going to read that, bend to your will, and forgo the 8 years of service that my gas grill has duly provided, just so I can tell people that I made barbecue the “right” way?

As you may have surmised, no, I did not follow the barking orders of Mr. Barbecue and his insufferable tome.  Instead, when hit by the urge to make smoked ribs for a small Independence Day celebration, I consulted with three different books about barbecuing that offered guidance and helpful tips, developed my own recipe based on flavors I thought would be interesting, then utilized a number of different barbecuing ideas that I thought would be a good fit.  And guess what?

The ribs, after four hours of smoking on a gas grill, with wood chips left to smolder in both a small smoking box and a makeshift smoking pouch made of aluminum foil, and helmed by a person with absolutely zero previous experience dealing with ribs or rub, came out beautifully caramelized and tender.  The flavor of the rub, while subtle, provided an unexpected undertone to the smoky taste of the ribs, and, even though I broke every single rule that was dutifully laid out for me by the world’s most detestable barbecuing guide, my gas grill-smoked ribs still triumphantly emerged lightly tinged with a telltale pink smoke ring on the outside edges.

And so can yours!  Gas grill, charcoal grill, or even no grill (as featured in this New York Times Magazine tutorial about smoking ribs in your home oven), you can totally tackle your own smoked ribs, no matter what equipment you do or don’t have.  See?  See how encouraging I am being?  Are you listening Mr. Barbecue Tyrant?  (And, no, I won’t link to the book, because though I won’t tell you that in order to barbecue you will need special equipment, I will definitely tell you that in order to barbecue you most certainly do not need that book.)

Indian Spiced Smoked Spareribs

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

5 pounds spareribs, cut into slabs that will comfortably fit into your grill (I cut this particular rib rack into two large slabs)

¼ cup yellow mustard

2 to 3 cups wood chips, soaked in water for 1 hour, then drained

1/3 cup apple cider (optional)

Combine mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds in a spice grinder or mortal and pestle and grind until a fine powder has been formed.

In a small bowl, combine ground mustard seeds and ground fenugreek seeds with other spices.  Mix to combine.

Rinse ribs, then pat dry.  Place ribs in a large, flat dish, or on a baking sheet that will fit into your refrigerator.  Brush both sides of your ribs with a light layer of yellow mustard (this will help your spice rub adhere to the ribs, and will also aid in the formation of a nice crust on the meat).  Sprinkle spice mixture over both sides of rubs, very gently patting into the meat (try not to pat too hard, however, or the rub will just stick onto your hands and pull off of the meat).  Place spiced ribs in the refrigerator to rest for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

At least 30 minutes before you are ready to cook your ribs, remove them from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature.  Set up your grill for indirect grilling.  If you have a two burner gas grill, this will mean setting one burner on medium low heat and leaving the other burner off.  If you have a three burner gas grill, it will mean setting two burners on medium low heat and leaving the third burner off.  If you have a charcoal grill, you will be raking your hot coals into two piles on opposite sides of the grill, leaving an empty space in between.  After preparing whichever grill you have, place a drip pan in the portion of the grill that is not lit or covered with hot coals. Note: you can read more about direct vs. indirect grilling here.

Toss the pre-soaked wood chips onto hot coals (if using a charcoal grill), or, if using a gas grill, place wood chips in a smoker box made specifically for gas grills (such as this one), or wrap your wood chips in a tight pouch of aluminum foil with holes punched in the top (as demonstrated here), then place the box or pouch of wood chips under the grill grate, directly on top of a burner.  I ended up using both a smoker box placed under a grill grate and a foil pouch smoker placed on top of the grill grate.

Place a small pan of water, filled ¾ full, on the heated side of the grill.

Pour apple cider into a small spray bottle.

Place the ribs, meaty side up, on the hot grate, over the drip pan that has been placed away from the heat.  If your ribs do not fit flat on the grill, as ours did not, place one slab flat, and the other on its end, propped up on the wall of the grill, if necessary.  Lightly spray ribs with apple cider.  Close lid of grill and allow ribs to smoke for at least 3 to 4 hours on medium low heat (if you have a grill thermometer, the temperature will read somewhere between 200 degrees Fahrenheit and 250 degrees Fahrenheit, though do not rely entirely on your grill’s thermometer, since many things can influence an incorrect temperature reading—our grill was sitting in a sunny place and the temperature read between 350 and 400 degrees the whole time, which was obviously incorrect).  Every 30 minutes, open the grill, turn your ribs over, spritz them with apple cider, then close the lid of the grill.  If the water in the pan has reduced a great deal, replenish the water about ¾ of the way full.

You will know your meat is done with the meat has started to shrink back about ¼ of an inch from the ends of the rib bones, and a fork is able to easily penetrate the meat.  We smoked a heavy five pounds of meat and, with repeated spritzings of apple cider, the ribs took just shy of 4 hours to cook.

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