Local Food

Published on July 7th, 2014 | by Jesse Yancy


Local Food: Birds on the Barbie

JesseYancyColumnHeaderThis article originally appeared in The Local Voice #206. To download a PDF of this issue, click here.

For those of us who don’t have the time, the know-how nor the money to cook big slabs of meat on grills that cost more than your next few house payments, the Southern yardwalker offers an affordable, wonderful shortcut to the world of barbecue.Bear in mind that it’s quite a different process to roast or smoke chicken than it is to barbecue them; smoked and roasted birds need skin to keep them from drying out, but barbecued chicken requires skinning beforehand, otherwise the sauce, which moisturizes as well as seasons, will never permeate the meat. Not only that, but over coals the chicken skin scorches and smokes. So a little bit of prep is involved. This work is best done the day before, and doesn’t take long. You can buy your chicken already cut up into whatever pieces your family or guests prefer, but buying whole chickens and cutting them in halves is cheaper, and halves don’t dry out as quickly as smaller pieces. Allow half a chicken per adult; sure, you’ll have leftovers, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

BirdsBarbieBarbecued chickens also benefit from a marinade. Some people prefer an oil and vinegar or citrus juice type of concoction, but you’re most likely going to have enough acid in your basting sauce. Instead, try garlic and aromatic vegetables such as peppers and onions in a mixture of vegetable oil, light soy or Worcestershire sauce with a little paprika and pepper. You can modify this as much as you like. Place your marinated chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator and let it sit overnight if you can, but at least for a couple of hours before grilling. As for the sauce, everyone should know how to make a good barbecue sauce. Find a basic recipe to use as a platform and have at it.

After your coals are uniformly hot, start your chicken by searing it on both sides. Then start basting with your sauce about every ten or fifteen minutes, turning as needed. Maintain your fire at an evenly low medium heat. Chicken should be done in about an hour to an hour and a half.

Serve with a little sauce on the side and the traditional appurtenances of corn on the cob, potato salad and slaw.

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About the Author

Jesse Yancy is an editor, writer and photographer living in Jackson, Mississippi. A native of Bruce and a graduate of Ole Miss, Yancy is an 8th generation Mississippian who has lived and worked throughout the state.

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