Calf Rope That Chicken for Moist White Meat
I’m going rogue in writing this blog post because I think it’s important that you know the secret to getting evenly moist breast and dark meat chicken. To boot, you’ll get wings that are savory to the tip and drumsticks that would probably slide down without chewing.
Let’s not get into the debate of BBQ versus Barbecuing. The latter of which in my mind simply means you’re going to cook something on the grill and not necessarily use a BBQ sauce on it. You might hear someone from Illinois say, “Hey der pal, why don’t you and da mrs. come over for a barbecue dis weekn’ and watch da bulls?”
Now that I’ve made my point, let’s get down to business and put away the BBQ sauce. At the risk of being banned by my “Brothers In Slaw” I’m barbecuing this chicken.
First let me say, this is too easy but my instructions are detailed to save you time and cleanup! Here’s what you’re going to need:
- Whole Chicken/s – I usually cook 2 at once. Same amount of effort.
- Olive Oil – 2 Tablespoons per chicken
- Lemon Zest – 1 zested per chicken
- Crushed garlic – 3 cloves per chicken
- Salt – 1/2 teaspoon now and more later during grilling.
- Pepper – To taste but I think 1/2 teaspoon per chicken
- Herbs de Provence – 1 Tablespoon per chicken
- Culinary String – 4 feet. I use jute from a craft store.
There’s very few steps but the devil is in the details for doing things in the right order. This will save you a lot of time and clean up.
- Cut string about 4′ long
- Soak string in water
- Put chicken (still in plastic) in sink
- Put garbage can as close to sink as possible
- With chicken bottom up, cut top of plastic
- With chicken still in plastic, reach in cavity and remove giblets to garbage can
- Hold plastic bag while lifting chicken up slowly to let juices drain into bag
- Set chicken on platter beside sink
- Dispose of plastic bag from chicken
- Tie up chicken. Watch this video:
Don’t let the speed of the video fool you. This is really easy!
- Tuck the wings BEHIND the chicken’s back
- Tie a knot around the end of one drumstick
- Pull both drumsticks up and figure 8 the string around both ends a couple of times
- Pull string down and flip chicken over.
- Run string up chicken back and up and over the neck and around to the front. Back down to the drumsticks and make 1 more figure 8
- Now tie the string to itself in a knot about the middle of the breast.
- Run the string around the left side, being sure to capture the wings under the string on the backside. Take the string on around to the front side.
- Tie a knot back where you started.
- One thing I don’t show is trimming the fat and skin from around the tail end. I do this to help reduce the chance of the grill flaming up to char the chicken.
Now, this is where most people make the fatal mistake of assuming they know what happens next. Apply the seasoning….WRONG!
NEXT, put the chicken on the grill. There’s too many different grills to go into a lot of details on this point so I’ll summarize by saying it should be medium indirect heat and run about a constant 375 degrees.
Lastly, go back to the list of ingredients and mix them all together in a bowl. Once you have a fairly thick consistency, then apply it to the chicken with a brush on the grill. The reason is simple why I did not do all this in the kitchen. I can be messier on the grill and not worry about chicken juices and oil getting on everything. By the time I put the chicken on and made my baste the chicken was barely warm to the touch on the grill. My thinking is that the skin is more receptive to be penetrated by the baste when it’s warm rather than when it just came out of the fridge back in the kitchen.
Some final notes:
If not using a rotisserie attachment, flip the chicken about every 20 minutes. That will give you about 4-5 flips before it’s done.
Medium indirect heat. Gas or charcoal.
About 1/2 way through, baste with remaining mixture and salt a little more. Remember, salt is one of the keys to retaining the internal moisture.
Check the temperature for doneness.
Clean any kitchen areas affected with a bleach or anti bacteria based cleaner.
That’s it! It may take you 2-3 times to perfect it for your particular grill but just remember there are two key things to this method.
- Tie the chicken up tight so there are no floppy pieces with the wings behind the back.
- Salt. And then salt some more. Did I mention some more salt…
Enjoy and thanks for letting me share my non-BBQ leanings.