Monday, July 18, 2011

Chicken 2 Ways

In the world of green eggery, there is an ongoing debate about the best way to prepare a whole chicken.  Two main cooking methods come to the forefront in this argument and I decided to try both so that I could draw my own conclusions.  The two methods are that of beer can chicken (cooking a chicken standing up on top of a container of liquid) and spatchcock (removing the back bone of the chicken and "butterflying" it).  Most arguments center around the basic components of cooking time, moistness, skin crispness, and clean up.  I decided to keep all of these in mind during my cook.

Spatchcock chicken:
I laid the chicken on the cutting board breast down and used a pair of scissors to cut the bird along its length on either side of the back-bone.  In the process, I cut through several of the thin ribs and removed the back-bone completely.  I flipped the chicken over and pressed on the breasts to flatted the chicken out as much as possible.  I rubbed the chicken with DP Raging River Rub.

Beer Can Chicken:
The beer can chicken was fairly simple.  I stood the chicken on my beer can chicken stand and placed a shortened Budweiser (Amurica!) underneath.  I rubbed some olive oil on the chicken and then added some Cavendar's and Tony Chachere's.

I set the egg up for direct cooking at 400º and used the grill extender to raise the cooking surface farther from the heat.  I placed the chicken on the grate and closed the lid.  I did not use any smoke for this cook though I will try it next time.  The spatchcock chicken reached 160º in the breast and 180º in the thigh after an hour.  The beer can chicken took 1.5 hours to reach the same temperatures.

After sampling both chickens I made the following observations.  The beer can chicken was slightly more moist than the spatchcock chicken (they were both very moist) but the spatchcock chicken had a nice crisp skin.  As far as clean-up, the spatchcock involved a little less clean up as there was no stand to clean up.  In summary, I think I would default to the spatchcock chicken for future cooks.  Though the beer can was slightly more moist, the difference did not overcome the ease of cooking the spatchcock in terms of cook time and clean-up.  I chaulk the crispy skin up to a combination of the cooking method and the Raging River rub.  I would recommend trying both as they are both superb methods for cooking whole chickens.

Bonus Food:
We also decided to have some veggies on the side.  MBH skewered some peppers, onions, mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini.  We added some olive oil and Cavendars to the veggies and threw them on for the last half hour of the chicken cook.  Depending on where the veggies were over the fire they finished at different times and I kept and eye on them pulling them off when done.

We also made our dessert on the egg.  MBH prepped some peaches with some pecans and brown sugar and some apples with cinnamon and honey.  I threw them on for about 25 minutes until they looked done.

The veggies really retained a smokey flavor and the the dessert was light and refreshing.  Both were simple and delicious.