Archive | April 2012

Spatchcocked Chicken

I’m a little behind on my blogging.  Hopefully I can catch up soon!

Having the little guy in our life certainly makes things busy.  It’s been kind of a blessing in disguise as far as my BGE time goes, though, because I’ve taken over a good chunk of the cooking.  And when Daddy cooks, the Big Green Egg is not far away!

This meal, spatchcocked chicken, was more about the leftovers than the meal itself.  Mrs. Esquire’s mom visited to help us out a bit after the little guy was born.  While she was here she wanted to make some soups for lunches throughout the week and to leave in the freezer for the future.

But, alas – a search through the freezer revealed a severe lack of broth!  No chicken stock, no ham stock, no pork stock, no nuthin!  So on a weekday night (it’s been so long now I don’t even remember what day it was), I was called upon to grill up a chicken.

Like every good egger, I’m a big fan of beer can chicken.  For this weeknight grill, however, I needed something quicker.  So I decided to try Spatchcocked Chicken.

I’d never heard of this preparation until I saw it on Griffin’s Grub.  Basically you cut the bird up the backbone and spread it wide on the grill.  I liked the idea of a quicker cook, while preparing a whole chicken.

The day before the cook I went on a grocery run to Whole Foods.  I asked the guys at the meat counter if they could spatchcock a chicken for me.  “Do what?” they said.  “Spatchcock,” I repeated, “it’s a way of preparing a chicken.”  All three of the guys behind the counter looked at me like I was crazy.

I explained that I wanted the bird butterflied so it would lay flat on the grill.  Once I described the cut they seemed to get the idea.  One of the butchers grabbed a bird and started in.  After his first snip, however, one of the other butchers walked over, shook his head, grabbed the shears, and made the next cuts.

I stood and waited patiently.  The guy next to me at the counter muttered under his breath, “I can’t believe they didn’t know how to spatchcock a chicken.”  I rolled my eyes and feigned bewilderment.  “Seriously.”  Of course, I’d only recently learned about this preparation.  But I’m a lawyer, not a butcher!

The next night, when I was ready to start grilling, I took the chicken out of the package to rub it down.  I quickly discovered the first butcher’s mis-cut.

My spatchcock has a wonky leg!  (I’m doing my best to keep this post clean . . .)

The preparation is pretty simple.  I rubbed the bird down with a great chicken rub I have on hand.  I always try to get some rub under the skin.

I used a raised grill for this cook.  The goal was to get a little distance from the flame but to keep the benefits of a direct cook.  With a shorter cook time I feared that using the plate setter would leave my bird too pale.

I cranked the Big Green Egg up to about 4o0 degrees.  I checked the bird at about a half hour or so and it was cooking along just fine.  I didn’t know whether I would have to give it a flip.  Turned out, it wasn’t necessary.  My bird was ready after about an hour, when the breast reached 160 degrees.

For a wonky legged chicken, it was downright tasty!

I actually liked this preparation better than beer can chicken.  The skin was nice and crispy.  The skin on my beer can chicken always ends up soggy.  Too much moisture (what a rare thing in grilling)!

Mrs. Esquire liked the spatchcocked chicken too, but she still likes the beer can chicken better.  It’s not really fair to compare our preferences, though, since she doesn’t really eat the skin.

Oh – and you may be wondering about that strange thing on the cutting board with the chicken.  That’s actually the backbone.  I rubbed it up and threw it on the grill for the last fifteen minutes.  Since the point of this cook was to make soup, the backbone was one of the most important parts!

As always, thanks for reading!

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Pilgrimage

I had a quick trip to Charlotte for work this week – one of those where I spent 18 hours traveling and four hours in a conference room.  I’ve made the treck to Charlotte quite a few times over the years.  This trip, however, was my first since I started egging seriously.  The trip presented a unique opportunity to explore both halves of my handle – BBQ and Esquire – in one trip.

I started my research in the cab.  “Where is the best place to get some good Carolina barbecue?  I don’t mean a place that’s down the block from my hotel, I mean the real thing.”  I also questioned the guy at the front desk of the hotel (the Courtyard doesn’t have a concierge), and the court reporter.  The place with the most votes was called Mac’s.

I finished with my deposition in time for a nice lunch at Mac’s.  I was not disappointed.

I ordered the pulled pork platter with mac and cheese and baked beans.  The pork was absolutely delicious.  Moist, tender and juicy.  There were four different sauces on the table: SC Mustard, Carolina BBQ Sauce, Red BBQ Sauce, and a nondescript bottle with the word “vinegar” scribbled on it with a sharpie.  I sampled my way through the four different sauces, taking notes all the way.

My first take away: the vinegar sauce was the bomb, and (not surprisingly) way better than the stuff I make.  It had a sweetness to it, a subtle heat, and the bite of the vinegar was very soft.  The other sauces were good also. I liked the mustard sauce for a change of pace.  But the vinegar sauce was clearly the house specialty.  While the other three sauces had ingredient labels (and are available on the restaurant’s website), the vinegar sauce did not.

I wanted to know more about the vinegar sauce.  My waitress, kind as she was, couldn’t tell me anything.  However, I picked up a few tips by looking at the other labels.  First big one: none of the sauces had white vinegar.  Apple cider vinegar only.  I can only speculate, but I bet this is the reason for the subtle sweetness and smoother finish in the vinegar sauce.  I plan to cut back on the white vinegar next time I make my sauce.  My second observation was the presence of Worcestershire in the Carolina BBQ sauce.  Perhaps I’ll sneak in this ingredient sometime.

I left my meal at Mac’s full and satisfied.  I was also really excited and thankful for the opportunity to do some research on my new craft.  I’m already looking forward to my next depositions in Charlotte so I can go back.