You know how good the smoked pulled chicken is in a BBQ joint or how tender the rotisserie chickens are at the local grocery store? I have been unsuccessful in achieving these kinds of results when roasting chickens on my BGE. I’m not saying I don’t roast great chickens, just not easily pulled or “fall apart tender”. So I bought 4 whole chickens at the grocery store and started developing a plan…….
I wanted to cook them low & slow to get a good smoked flavor in addition to making them very tender. My plan was also to place roasted chickens in the freezer for future meals. At 300-350*, most whole chickens are usually done in 45-60 minutes, but I wanted to cook these at 180* or so for a longer time.
To be able to cook all four, I used the chickens (still in their packaging) to help determine the fit on the Egg and I came up with a plan using products from the The Ceramic Grill Store. After loading the large Egg with lump and apple chunks plus apple and cherry chips, I placed a ‘spider‘ on the fire ring. On that (about 2″ below the fire ring), I placed a 13″ BGE pizza stone as my indirect piece. I then put a rectangular, foiled drip pan on a ‘slide guide’ on the bottom level of the ‘Adjustable Rig (AR)‘, with an oval grid on a slide guide just above the drip pan. The ‘rig extender‘ fit on top of the AR with the second oval grid on that.
While the Egg was coming up to temp, I put 4 different rubs on the chickens – Rebel Rub (local), Cluck and Squeal’s All Purpose rub, Dizzy Pig’s Shaking the Tree rub, and Gunpowder (a new rub I got in a “swap” with a neighbor who reads this blog). The chickens were placed on the BGE, after it had been stabilized by my DigiQ controller at about 180*(with the stone, drip pan and grids inside).
I ran into issues when my controller would not maintain the 180* grid temp, where it was set. I suspect this was related to the need to replace my ‘leaky’ gaskets. The grid temp crept up to 240-260* despite almost completely closing the top vents. After about 2 hours (chicken internal temp at about 140*), I turned off the DigiQ, barely cracked open the daisy wheel and left it alone for about 2 more hours. The grid temp drifted down to 210*, so I turned it back on and it stayed in the 210-225* range for the balance of the cook. When the thigh temp reached 180*, I removed all four chickens – a total cook time of 8 hours.
The ones in the picture below were on the top rack and the skin got a little more crispy than the bottom rack (note to self – rotate the racks at least once in the future so all four get exposure to the heat coming off the dome onto the top rack).
Bottom rack – the left one had the “Gunpowder” rub (which ‘looks’ like gunpowder).
After resting on a cooling rack, then spending the night in the refrigerator, I cut them into halves, vacuum-sealed and froze for future meals. We did eat the first one, which happened to be the “Rebel Rub” one, and it was tender, juicy and flavorful. They all had a prominent (not overbearing) smoky aroma! Success!
This is a great way to cook several meals in one smoke session, if one has the accessories to create a multilevel cook. This can also be done with fire bricks separating the two grids or with other brands of multilevel grids.
1-4 whole chickens (4-5# each)
Rub of choice
(1) Remove the neck and other parts from inside the chicken cavity and rinse well.
(2) Drizzle olive oil on the outside of the chicken and spread around to cover all areas to help the rub stick.
(3) Liberally cover the outside of the chicken with the rub, as well as inside the cavity.
(4) Prepare the grill for a 180-200* indirect cook with a drip pan to catch the considerable fat that will be rendered. Use large amount of fruit wood chunks and/or chips (cherry or maple will help enhance the skin coloring).
(5) Roast slowly until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 180-200*. Remove and serve immediately or allow to cool before cutting up