The process had begun. After several days filled with frustration and aggravation, I knew that I had to get out and get that grill going, no matter the weather. And as any frequent griller can attest to, the act of grilling is paramount to therapy. Those wispy, thin ribbons of blue smoke are always relaxing and even a bit seductive, similar to a genie in a bottle.
The object of my attention was a whole chicken, around four pounds, that through no fault of its own, became the perfect volunteer to become dinner.
But first, I decided to marinade the naked bird overnight in a generous slathering of plain greek yogurt.
Now you may ask why I decided to do this, and all I can say is that the idea struck me as the right thing to do. I had never tried it before, but I’m hoping that the yogurt will help keep the bird tender and juicy on the smoker, similar to soaking chicken in buttermilk before frying. And before you question this decision, here’s something else to think about. When you get asked, and you know you will, “Have you ever massaged a naked chicken with yogurt?”, how will you be able to respond? Well, we all know how I will respond now, don’t we?
Nevertheless, the yogurt covered bird is then put into a large Ziploc bag and refrigerated overnight. The next day, when youre’ ready to start smoking, take the bird out of its yogurt induced sleep, and rinse it off well. Pat the bird dry, and lay it down to start the seasoning process. You’ll notice that the chicken is a bit more relaxed at this point, kind of “loosey-goosey”, for those that prefer the technical term, signifying that the chicken did indeed enjoy the yogurt soak.
Rather than using a lot of dry spices, I made a basic buffalo wing sauce on the stove top. You know, half butter and half your favorite cayenne sauce heated to a liquid. This was then injected into the bird, hitting all the major spots, like the breast, legs, wings, back and thighs. Spread any remaining sauce you have between the breast skin and the breast meat. While glancing over and seeing a sweet onion on the counter, I decided to cut about a quarter of it off and shove it into the cavity of the chicken. “Hey, what can it hurt?”
“Now this is beginning to look like an angry bird” I thought. “Blaze orange, spread out on a platter, waiting to be subjected to the hardwood fire and applewood smoke.”
After a quick grinding of black pepper over the top of the chicken, my therapy session continued with the chicken being carefully laid down on the grill, over a water pan, opposite the side of the grill with those burning coals. Yeah, a nice slow, indirect cook for this small chicken with big expectations. Toss in your wood of choice for the smoke and put the cover on.
With a cook time expected of roughly a couple of hours at medium to low heat, rotate the chicken after about forty-five minutes to help with even cooking and browning. During the last thirty to forty minutes, I increased the bird’s anger level by slathering on a barbecue sauce mixed with still more cayenne sauce. This allows the sauce to caramelize and coat the bird while completing the cooking process.
Once the internal temperature has reached the 165 degree mark, take the chicken off the grill and let rest on a platter. The chicken can also be tested by simply rotating the leg. If it moves easily, with no resistance, it’s a cooked bird.
I really didn’t know what to expect out of this Angry Bird. But after the yogurt spa session, the buffalo sauce injections, and the barbecue sauce baste, this chicken came out picture perfect while also being one of the most tender, flavorful, and juiciest birds that you can imagine.
And hey, adding in a cold frosty brew is never a bad idea either.
Life Is Better Wood Fired.
This Angry Bird recipe included the following ingredients:
- Whole Chicken, less than 5 lbs
- 1 personal size cup of plain greek yogurt, approximately 5 oz
- Your favorite cayenne sauce, approximately 1/4 cup
- Butter, amount equal to the cayenne sauce used, 1/4 cup
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 whole sweet onion, into cavity of chicken
- Your favorite spicy BBQ sauce
- Blue Cheese dressing as a condiment
- Accompanying cold beer, optional, but recommended