CHEF JEFF LUNSFORD / HEARTH & GRILL SHOP
There is nothing that says comfort food more than a perfect whole roasted chicken. It is a recipe of few and simple ingredients, but when a few techniques are perfected the outcome is always delicious and satisfying.
The first thing to do is season the chicken well with Lemon and Thyme, which are perfect match for this recipe. While seasoning the chicken I also use a liberal amount of salt. The second technique is to Smoke-Roast the bird rather than just smoking or just roasting in the oven. Smoking at low temperature can produce rubbery skin, so I roast my bird over charcoal at higher temperature than I would use for just smoking. I usually smoke-roast between 300 and 325 degrees. I prefer to use my large Big Green Egg with a V-Rack and drip pan to catch all those juices to baste with while cooking.
The third technique is to remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest before carving. The chicken will stay plenty warm and will reabsorb all of the juices.
If you are planning a party or entertaining outside, this is a great dish to prepare ahead of time and serve warm right of the grill.
For the Chicken:
1 (4 to 5 – pound) Chicken, rinsed and patted dry
For the Seasoning:
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 t red chili flakes
2 T Extra-Virgin olive oil + some to drizzle at the end
1 t fresh black pepper
1 T salt, preferably kosher or sea salt
Mix spices together. Place half the spice mixture inside the chicken. Squeeze the juice of one lemon inside the chicken and place the halves of the lemon inside the bird. Use the butcher's twine to truss the chicken so it cooks evenly. Squeeze the juice of the second lemon over the outside of the chicken. Then rub the out side with the olive oil. Use the remaining salt, pepper and chopped thyme to season the outside of the chicken and place in a roasting rack.
Preheat a Big Green Egg, Weber Kettle, or other charcoal grill to medium heat building the fire on one side of the grill with the temperature reaching 325 degrees. Place the chicken on the grill with the drumsticks closest to the direct heat, as they will take a little longer to cook.
Cook the chicken for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Remove the chicken to a warm platter and cover with aluminum foil. Allow the chicken to rest 10 to 15 minutes before carving to allow all of the juices to be reabsorbed. Carve the chicken into serving pieces and drizzle with a little more lemon juice and olive oil.
If you're an amateur backyard cook and you'd like to enter the 6th Annual Backyard Challenge BBQ Cook-Off, it's Saturday June 5th at The Hearth & Grill Shop, with over $6000 in cash and prizes for the winners. To enter the cook-off, call Jeff Lunsford at the Hearth & Grill Shop at (615)255-4551 or visit www.hearthandgrill.com