Roast chicken is an simple and satisfying dish that I really enjoy doing on the grill. The only real trick is to get a nice, diffused heat that surrounds the birds – cooking them evenly and crisping the skin. I always do two birds at once, since they take no more time to cook and the leftovers disappear quickly into lunches, stews, and casseroles.
2 whole chickens (I like 3-5 pound young chickens, free range if possible)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3-5 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue rub
I filled the firebox with lump charcoal and set my Big Green Egg up for an indirect cook at high temps – 450°F. The heat needs to be as indirect as possible. This is roasting, not grilling. On the Egg that means using the plate setter to diffuse the heat. On a kettle grill I’d bank the coals to the outside. On a gasser, I’d turn off the middle burner and just use the side ones.
I cleaned and rinsed the birds and then patted them dry. Then I let them air dry for 10-15 minutes. I rubbed the birds with olive oil, salted the cavities, and seasoned them all over with John Henry Texas Chicken Tickler.
I put the chickens breast side down on a rack set in a shallow roasting pan (a disposable turkey roaster works great for two birds). The rack makes sure that any juices that drip out stay away from the skin to keep it crisp and the roaster keeps the heat from directly hitting the birds.
I put the roaster full of birds on the Egg, using a trivet between the plate setter and the roaster to keep the drippings from burning. Chicken tends to pick up enough smoke from the lump charcoal, so I didn’t add any wood for smoke.
The birds cooked for just over an hour, to the point where my Thermapen instant-read thermometer said the thigh was at 170°F and juices were running clear. I tried to let the birds rest 15 minutes before carving, but at least one wing didn’t make it to the table. It was crispy, juicy, smoky – all the things you want roast chicken to be.