Grill seekers: how to have the perfect barbecue
Barbecue experts Andy Noonan, owner of Fowl Play, a live fire chicken joint in Dublin 2, and Tim Greenwood, Weber Grill Academy tutor at Cooks Academy, share their suggestions for successful summer barbecues
“Poultry and game birds take to smoke and coals so well, adding an extra layer of flavour.”
Tim Greenwood’s barbecue tips
How to avoid that undercooked on the inside and burnt on the outside result: I recommend cooking with indirect heat. This means using your barbecue like an oven, with the lid on. For example, this weekend I will be doing a leg of lamb. I’ll put it in the middle of the barbecue and light the burners either side so that it roasts, just like in a normal oven.
Does it work for chicken too? The indirect method is great for chicken drumsticks or thighs. Normally, I cook indirect first and then finish directly over the grill to give the chicken some colour. I probe each piece also, to make sure it has reached 72ºC. This method works equally well on a charcoal barbecue. Indirect/lid-on also reduces flare-ups and therefore excessive meat charring.
How do I know for sure my meat is cooked? I never barbecue without a temperature probe and I’ll bring my leg of lamb core temperature up to about 60ºC. Always let meat rest for 15 minutes before serving so that the juices have a chance to cool, congeal and ultimately flavour the meat more.
Think outside the box. When it comes to deciding what to cook, look beyond burgers and sausages. Oily fish such as salmon or trout take smoke very well. I love hot smoking fish on my charcoal barbecue.
For a really simple dessert, put a slit in a banana and stuff it with some chocolate, bake on the barbecue, indirect, for five to 10 minutes, serve with cream or ice cream.
How can I plan for a barbecue in typically unpredictable Irish weather? Do the prep inside, barbecue outside (under an umbrella if necessary), eat inside. I always plan a barbecue on this basis. If it turns out that the weather is great, then we eat outside. Never be tempted to bring a barbecue inside – you leave yourself and others open to C02 poisoning.
Andy Noonan’s spatchcock chicken
This is one of my favourite things to grill. It’s how we cook our birds in Fowl Play, on the rotisserie. The aerodynamic shape allows for quicker and more even cooking.
Poultry and game birds take to smoke and coals so well, adding an extra layer of flavour. I would always recommend buying the best quality free-range chicken you can afford. Try this with quail, partridge or pheasant too, when in season.
When we think of barbecue sauce, we think of red or brown sauces laden with sugar. This sauce hails from a famous barbecue joint in Alabama, Big Bob Gibsons, where they famously dunk their meat in a vat of this tangy white sauce just after it comes off the pit. The contrast between the creamy mayo, vinegar and horseradish adds a refreshing take on a barbecue sauce.
1 chicken 1.5-1.6kg, spatchcocked
All Rounder Rub
4 tbsp smoked paprika (buy the best quality you can afford)
1 tbsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
1 tbsp garlic granules or powder
1 tsp onion powder (optional but recommended)
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp ground cumin
Alabama White BBQ Sauce
500ml good quality mayonnaise
300ml cider vinegar
Thumb-sized piece of grated horseradish (substitute with creamed horseradish if you can’t get fresh horseradish)
Juice of 1 lemon (or a cup of good-quality pressed apple juice if you like a little more sweetness in your sauce)
2 tbsp cracked black pepper
1 tbsp smoked paprika
Salt, to taste
For the rub, combine all the ingredients and mix well.
For the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. The sauce should be heavy on the pepper.
You can ask your butcher to spatchcock the chicken for you or else do it yourself by removing the backbone – it’s easy to do. Take a large sharp kitchen knife or poultry shears/strong scissors, place the bird breast side down and cut along the sides of the spine. Cut along the length of the bird on both sides of the spine to remove. Once removed, turn the bird over and press down firmly on the breast to break the ribs and flatten out the bird.
Coat the chicken evenly in a little olive oil and then the All Rounder Rub.
Place the chicken on your low heat/safe zone of your grill (away from the coals) with the legs facing towards the fire and the breasts facing away. Cook slowly for 45-70 minutes, using the indirect heat method – this will essentially act like your oven would. If you have a thermometer on your grill, it should read 140º-170º C.
While the chicken is cooking, melt your butter slowly in a saucepan. Set aside, but make sure it doesn’t harden. Baste your chicken with the melted butter about half way through the cooking time.
Check if the chicken is done by slicing into the deepest part of the breast – the meat should be white and juicy. If you have a digital thermometer, the temperature should read 75º C.
Once you’re sure it is cooked through, turn up the heat on your grill and move your chicken over to the high-heat zone and char the skin so it is nice and crisp. A spray bottle of apple juice or water will help control flames, as will closing the lid or moving your chicken to your low-heat/safe zone until the flames go out. Make sure to get the skin nice and crisp.Brush the cooked chicken with Alabama White Sauce a couple of minutes before it comes off the grill, building up layers of flavour. Remove the chicken from the grill, cut it into quarters and dunk in a bowl of the sauce to coat evenly before serving.