This ain’t no Dixie Chicken!

26 Feb

My father was one of the original grill masters. Seriously. He could turn an ordinary piece of meat into gourmet fare. His smoked turkeys were legendary. Pink and so moist on the inside. Skin that you couldn’t resist eating. So when he passed away in 2011 I grabbed this cookbook from his collection. And finally opened it this past week and found dozens of recipes I cannot wait to try – particularly when there’s no longer snow on the ground!

This recipe sounds more complicated than it is – but the best part is you can prepare it the day before. In fact you must prep it the day before to have the optimum results. And don’t assume it’s super spicy just because it sounds like it is! The end result is a fork-tender moist chicken with a perfectly crunchy crust. The book is Born to Grill (1998) by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison. The book is still available in both hardback and paperback on Amazon and other book sites.

Hearty Ranch Chicken Halves

Ranch Paste:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chiles and 1½ teaspoons adobo sauce from the can

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or other hot pepper sauce

1 teaspoon kosher salt or other coarse salt

½ teaspoon dry mustard

Two 3-pound to 3¼ pound whole chickens, halved

Ranch Baste:

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon water

At least 3 hours and up to the night before you plan to grill the chicken, prepare the paste, first combining the ingredients in a small saucepan. Warm over medium heat just until the butter melts and the mixture can be blended evenly. Refrigerate the mixture for a few minutes until it becomes the consistency of room temperature butter. Massage the chicken halves thoroughly with the paste, rubbing it inside and out and working it as far as possible under the skin without tearing the skin. Place the halves in a plastic bag and refrigerate.

Fire up the grill, bringing the temperature to medium (4 to 5 seconds with the hand test). Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it sit covered at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Mix together the baste, combining the Worcestershire sauce and water. Transfer the halves to the grill and arrange them skin-side up. Grill uncovered over medium heat for about 20 minutes, without turning, then cook an additional 30 to 40 minutes, turning every 5 to 10 minutes and ending with the chicken skin-side down for a final crisping. (You want the chicken skin to face the grill enough to render the fat and brown, but not burn). Watch for flare-ups, shifting the halves away from the flame if necessary. Brush or spritz the baste over the chicken’s cavity about halfway through the cooking. If grilling covered, cook the chicken starting skin-side up over medium heat for about 15 minutes, without turning, then cook an additional 25 to 30 minutes total, turning three times and brushing or spritzing the baste over the chicken’s cavity about halfway through the cooking. Arrange the chicken halves on a platter and serve immediately.

Note: Recipe for those luscious French Fries will be on a future blog!

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