I understand all sorts of people are interested in chickens and that for many they are considered more pets than a food supply. For us, we consider them half-pets and half-food and, as part of that, intend to eat our chickens in the fall.
I’ve said to friends in the past that I feel as a meat eater that I have an obligation at some point to butcher an animal. This is part of the consequence of eating meat: that animals need to be killed. It seems cowardly to me to be willing to eat meat only if someone discretely butchers it out of sight from me. I *THINK* I’m ok with it, but we’ll find out this fall =).
In preparation, we’ve bought a few broiler chickens at the grocery store for me to practice cooking on the BBQ. I’d hate to mess up with our chickens when the time comes to cook them. I’ve found a few how-to’s on the Internet, and have adapted them to our BBQ and the chickens I’ve been cooking.
In order to increase the surface area of the chicken that’s being cooked, the idea behind butterflying is to flatten her out. I have cut along the chicken’s backbone, to either side, from the opening on one end to the opening on the other. After this is done, the chicken’s carcass will open and you can spread it out.
Some instructions recommend cutting along BOTH sides of the backbone, which I didn’t bother with. It is also recommended tucking in the wings, which I also didn’t bother with. Apparently, some people remove the breastbone to improve the presentation, which I also didn’t do.
Using a Propane BBQ
The BBQ should be preheated with both burners on full. This gets the entire BBQ warmed up and ready to cook the bird. After 10 minutes, turn off one of the sides and put the chicken, breast side *UP* on the side that has the burner *OFF*.
The idea here is to cook the bird thoroughly – you don’t want to get sick from undercooked poultry – by avoiding direct heat. The pre-heated BBQ, bones being on the grill instead of the breast meat, and the heat coming from the other side should be enough to cook the chicken all the way through without burning the surface. Leave the bird like this for 50 minutes. Don’t check on it or mess with the BBQ – opening it will let the heat out. Just leave her alone to cook for 50 minutes.
When you open it up after 50 minutes, you should have something that’s starting to look tasty. Flip her over and cook her for 15 minutes with the breast side down on the lowest possible heat. At this point, the flame should be directly under the bird – we’re trying to get a nicely charred bird.
If you have a meat thermometer, the thickest part of the breast should read 160°F. Make sure you don’t touch the bone with your thermometer as that will mess up the reading.
Take the chicken out, and let it cool on your kitchen counter for 10 minutes. Carve and serve!
If you find the chicken is overdone (dry) or underdone (pink, don’t eat! Put the under-cooked parts, probably the breast, back in the BBQ for another 10 minutes) adjust the 50-minute cooking time, either decreasing it if it is overdone or increasing it if it’s underdone.
Our chickens will be larger than the broilers we’ve been buying, so I plan to add some extra time to account for that when I BBQ them.
How do you like to cook chicken? What do you think of the taste of your own chickens versus store-bought? Do you eat cockerel (roosters)? What do you think of the taste of older chickens?