Another quick and easy spatchcocked chicken recipe on the grill for those of you with gas grills at home that are interested in smoking foods. I did alter a few things from my previous cook and it paid off. First, I bought a V-shaped smoker box for my Weber grill and I got better performance out of my wood chips. They definitely smoked better. The smoke had that nice light blue hue and the amount was definitely decent. Second, I decided to smoke the chicken at 300F instead of 250F from my previous smoked chicken recipe (basic smoked spatchcocked chicken, see it here!).
The cold-chicken cold-grill/oven dilemma.
In both opportunities, I started with a cold grill and a cold chicken from the store. There are pros and cons with this approach from what I’ve noticed over the years.
The chicken will cook more evenly starting with near room-temperature chicken and a pre-heated gas grill/oven, for sure. But is it noticeably so? Maybe but I have yet to find any issues or come up with some sort of a comparison test. Another problem with starting cold is frozen chicken: It’s really hard to tell if a chicken is frozen in the deepest areas. Might look unfrozen at first glance but the bones might be frozen keeping the meat around them very cold and undercooked while the volume around them is well cooked. A thermometer helps and I would suggest resting a chicken before baking/smoking it until it is no longer frozen near the bones. A cold chicken will also add to your roasting time and that depends on the size of the chicken. For a 4 pound chicken, it adds about 20 minutes or so.
This is subject to scrutiny and further testing. I’ve been roasting chickens for a long time and this is my favorite method though. Seems like it yields a juicier bird with nice and crispy (after some fat basting of course). I have had issues with chicken that were frozen at the bones though but some careful temperature checking can get around this. I attribute the great quality of the crispy skin to the extra added cooking time, and the juiciness might have to do with a more gradual and gentle heat curve. The other advantage is pretty obvious. Convenience. It might take a little longer to cook but I don’t have to worry about resting it on the kitchen counter for an hour. Again, make sure the chicken is cold not frozen. Spatchcocking your chicken will definitely help with even cooking.
Back to this chicken!
This is a pretty simple recipe. Butterfly your chicken by cutting away its back, flipping it over and laying the chicken flat on a prepping/cutting board. You might need to snap some joints, especially the sternum, but make sure the chicken is as flat as possible as shown in the pics.
Rub the chicken generously with gochujang paste. You don’t need to add anything else after this. Gochujang is salty and a perfect rubbing seasoning for meats, pork, chicken, soups, stews. Spicy, complex. Another wonderful product of hot pepper fermentation. I can’t say enough good things about this condiment. If you have the opportunity to let the chicken rest in the fridge overnight, do it. I didn’t and although extremely tasty on the surface I would have preferred a bit more seasoning infused into the meat, but either way, the chicken will turn out really good.
On your 2-burner gas grill (Weber spirit), place your V-shaped smoker box filled with dry apple wood chips right over the flavorizer bar on the hot burner. Turn it to medium. Keep the other burner off. Place the chicken on a roasting rack (I use a cooling rack) and place this over a hotel pan to catch the drippings. Place this whole setup over the “off” burner. Close the lid of your grill.
You might need to adjust the active burner until you achieve a steady 300F. Smoke for about 1 hour undisturbed. Coat your chicken skin with vegetable oil at this point and crank up your active burner to its highest setting. You might need to add more wood chips. Bake for about half hour. The target heat on your grill should be 450F-500F. Remove the chicken from the grill and allow to rest for about 30 minutes before serving.
The chicken should be about 65C in the deepest part of the thigh and about 60C in the deepest part of the breast. Carryover heat will do the rest of the cooking.
It’s all relative.
One of the things I dislike the most when writing about food is specifying times (except for when I write about sous vide cooking). This is because grills, ovens, skillets, etc.. they’re so imprecise in how they distribute heat and because we all own different brands or models of similar pieces of equipment. It’s all relative. Even the weather plays an important role in cooking times. So, following any recipe blindly will most likely result in something either overcooked or undercooked. If you’re getting into cooking or have been having issues with getting things right, the best you can do is invest in a few good thermometers and check. The pros do it all the time, why shouldn’t we. Cheers!