A particular chicken recipe caught my eye last month, and I'm usually not a recipe cook. It was a recipe for a hickory smoked chicken with a white BBQ sauce that was the invention of a guy named Bob Gibson. He was an Alabama native who developed his recipes by cooking for friends and family. Not only did this recipe appear in one of my favorite cooking mags, but it was in two in the same month. I figured I had to try this out.
The dish is a butterflied or what some might call a "Spatchcocked" chicken ( I explain this further down) rubbed with a dry spice mix and then smoked over hickory while being mopped with a mayonnaise/horseradish based sauce.
Big Bob Gibson's Hickory Smoked Chicken With White BBQ Sauce
-2 cups mayonnaise
-¼ cup prepared horseradish
-¼ cup apple cider vinegar
-2 TBSP sugar
-4 TBSP Kosher Salt
-1 TBSP ground black pepper
-½ tsp cayenne
-2 ¼ tsp sweet paprika
-1 ½ tsp garlic powder
-¾ tsp celery seed
-¼ tsp ground cumin
-¼ tsp ground coriander
Mix all the mayo, horseradish. Vinegar, sugar, 3 Tbsp of the salt, 1 ½ tsp. of the pepper, and all of the Cayenne together.
Mix the rest of the spices together to be used as a dry rub.
Prepare a whole chicken for grilling:
Wash and pat dry a whole chicken. Cut out the backbone. Remove the keelbone and the ribcage on both sides. Remove the wishbone.
This method of partially deboning the chicken is known as "Spatchcocked," taken from the Irish term "dispatch cock," a meal for a sudden occasion. Prepared this way, the chicken can be cooked very quickly. Apply the dry rub to both sides of the bird. This can be done up to several hours ahead. Prepare a fire in one side of the Weber Kettle and when the coals are ready for grilling add several chunks of hickory wood. Place the bird skin side up on the opposite side of the grill from the coals and cover the grill. Close the dampers on the lid and the base of the grill to keep the temperature in the grill low, about 275F. Divide the BBQ sauce into two bowls and use half to baste the chicken occasionally. Cook the chicken for about 45 minutes until the juices from the pierced thigh run clear.
Serve the chicken with the remaining "clean" BBQ sauce on the side.
Jersey corn season is in full swing right now so it's been an a side dish with many meals these past few weeks. Just boiled in salted water, the flavor is so fresh and sweet I don't even use butter.
Our drink that night was the 2007 Pinot Noir from Lemelson Vineyards, the "Thea's Selection." More on the fruit driven side with lively acidity, it complemented the rich smokey chicken very well.
Hickory is a great wood to use on chicken or pork and I prefer it for those meats to mesquite which I like for beef and salmon. Experimentation and discovering ones own preferences is what it is really about though, just be prepared to wake up the next morning smelling like a side of bacon.