Sunday, April 20, 2008

Chicken, thighs and legs

Before I get to the chicken, I must describe what I am eating at this moment. I was planning on writing this, but a bit hungry. I went to the kitchen, and the last piece of chicken was sitting there. However, it is for my son, so I refrained from touching it.

Oh, but what's this? The last piece of that nice roast beef I did up on the barbecue! Yeah! I chopped it up and put it in a pan. Let's see. Rice wine vinegar, just a splash. OK, another splash. Some soy sauce. A dollop of A-1 sesame steak sauce. A bit of olive oil. Heat it up.

How to eat it? On toast! Two slices of whole grain bread, toasted firm and brown. A bit of olive oil. Now, spread the chopped meat on, thick. Too thick for a closed sandwich, so I have two open faced beauties to snack on. Fabulous!

Now, the chicken. Plump thighs and legs, thawed out last night. I want to begin doing meat I go and get just before the barbecue, but these were here and needed to be eaten. I just rubbed them with olive oil, and went to build the fire.

I used lump charcoal as the base. It starts easily, and smokes nicely. Once the bed was started, I built a wall of charcoal biscuits around it. Once I was getting some good heat, I put on the chicken. Just laid them out in the cooking chamber, with a bit of water in the drip pans for moisture.

Now for some smoke. I decided to try chunk mesquite this time. I put on three fist-sized chunks, dry. Partly due to time, I did not soak any before beginning. The chunks did not produce the amount of smoke the soaked-and-dry chips had, but still were satisfactory.

I fed the fire often, and refrained from opening the cooking chamber for forty minutes. At that time I checked temperature (around 350 degrees) and turned the chicken over. The two pieces nearest the firebox were cooking much faster than the rest, so I moved them to the other end.

After an hour and a half, I checked the meat temperature. The chamber had settled to about 250 degrees, and the meat was steady at around 160 degrees. People were hungry (that time thing) so I put the cooking grate into the fire box and grilled these pieces for several minutes with the lid down.

On the whole the end product was pretty good. I should not have grilled the two pieces that had cooked the most, being close to the fire during the early cooking. I got a little burn on these. Still good. Very good, in fact.

The least cooked piece was still done, but I think it could have used just a bit more time. In fact, I think the whole lot could have done no less than two hours and been the better for it.

We are not real wine drinkers, but we had picked up a bottle of Smoking Loon 2005 Viognier on the way home. We had walked by it, it was on sale, and I had no idea what a Viognier was. It came home with us, and proved quite satisfactory to our uneducated palates. Surprisingly sweet for a white wine.

What would I do differently? I think I would plan for a longer cooking time. At least two hours. I would also really like to get a digital thermometer that I can use to read the internal meat temperature remotely, from outside the cooking chamber. Especially for cooking pork and chicken. Something like this.

I do think building the fire a bit hot to start with worked well. I got the temperature up, and it was easier to control this time. I still want to build a fan assembly that can introduce a bit more air when I want to bump up the temperature.

A good cooking experience. With salad and baked beans (canned) the meal was quite satisfying.

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