Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fire Roasted Chicken with Whiskey BBQ Sauce

You can pick up a BBQ rotisserie chicken for just a few bucks at most grocery stores now.  While they are convenient when you are on the run, they sure don't taste as good as ones that you make yourself. Hand made the hard way just tastes better.

barbecue chicken plate,

This recipe comes from Adam Perry Lang .  APL is a restauranteur, a classically trained chef, celebrity pitmaster for the Jimmy Kimmel show, and the author of highly acclaimed BBQ books, such as; Serious BBQ, BBQ25, and Charred and Scruffed.

I own all three and would highly recommend any or all of them. 

My hands-on cooking style (called "fussy" by my wife) is heavily influenced by these three books. Adam calls it "active grilling" and I like that term better. 

Adam is on a tour across the country with George Dickel celebrating American craftsmanship - things hand made the hard way like George Dickel whiskey crafted here in Tennessee. I recently had the opportunity to interview both Adam and Doug Kragel, Master of Whiskey, about BBQ and Tennessee whiskey.

In addition to the interview, Adam shared these two recipes for a hand made rub and sauce.

Making a rub from whole spices like this is an extra step or two but it unleashes a flavor that you can't get from pre-ground spices and herbs.

I used these recipes with a fire roasted chicken for our dinner the other night and it was a huge hit with the family.

Fire Roasted Chicken with George Dickel No. 12 Barbecue Sauce
source:  Sauce and Rub from Adam Perry Lang

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2-3 tablespoons APL spice rub, coarse grind
  • 1 cup George Dickel No. 12 Barbecue Sauce

  1. Set up your grill for "raised direct" (see below) and preheat to 350°F. 
  2. Spatchcock the chicken.  Use poultry sheers or a sharp knife to entirely remove the back bone by cutting along each side of the spine.  Flip the chicken over, place the heel of you palm on the sternum and forcibly press downward, cracking the ribs and flattening the bird.  Think of it like trying to give the chicken a strong CPR compression or thrust.
  3. Season the chicken on the front and back with APL's spice rub until lightly covered all over.
  4. Place chicken skin side up directly above the heat on the raised grill grate.  Close the lid and fire roast until the chicken reaches 155°F in the breasts, about 50-55 minutes.
  5. Brush chicken with the sauce, close the lid and continue cooking until the breasts reach 160°F and the thighs reach 175°F, about 10 more minutes.
  6. Remove and serve with remaining sauce on the side.
"Raised direct" simply means you are cooking directly over the heat but further away from the heat element (coal, wood, gas) than normal.  Kamado grills (Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, Primo, Grill Dome, Vision) use a multi level rack to do this like the one I made here.
BGE, Big Green Egg tips, Kamado Joe tips, Grill Dome tips
Ignore the blown gasket.  I'm buying a Kamado Joe for comps and then I'll take this Egg out of use temporarily so I can replace the gasket with a Rutland gasket. 
For gas grills like my Char-Broil Gourmet, here is how I did a raised grid for a spatchcocked turkey - I used 4 empty tomato paste cans to support a rack.

For charcoal grills with adjustable coal grates or food grates, just adjust these so there is about 8-10" from the coal.  

I didn't really measure, I just seasoned until it was evenly covered like this but it was in the neighborhood of 2 tablespoons.

Adam Perry Lang BBQ barbecue sauce
With hand made the hard way as the tour's tag line, I couldn't use just any honey.  I used honey produced by one of Ken Hess' hives.  Ken is one of the pitmasters at Big Bob Gibson's BBQ in Decatur, AL and he got into beekeeping a bit ago.  I was lucky enough to get three jars from him before he sold out this year.

kamado spatchcock chicken
During the last 15 or so minutes, I put a pan of beans under the chicken to cook and collect any of the fully cooked drippings from the chicken. 
kamado spatchcock chicken,
Sauced and finishing up.

barbecue chicken plate

It turned out excellent and our daughter who is visiting from Florida has probably mentioned how good this was 3 or 4 times since Sunday.  Don't be scared off by the amounts of whiskey and vinegar.  The whiskey flavor is actually subtle and you only get a slight tang from the vinegar. 

It was flavorful and moist - a real winner.  That said, there are two things I want to add the next time I do this.  First, I want to use some of the same whole spices in Adam's rub to flavor a brine for the chicken.  Second, I will baste it with a compound butter a few times using an herb basting bundle (another APL technique).  Like Adam says....get in there and coax out those flavors!

[Standard Disclaimer]  No compensation was received for this post nor do I have any affiliation with George Dickel. I was invited to a special event dinner in Nashville for this tour but sadly, I was unable to attend due to schedule conflicts. 


  1. that looks amazing! Definitely giving this a try. Pinned it so I can find it later!

  2. When you live in KY, are you allowed to drink TN whiskey? GREG

  3. That looks so wonderful!!! I love it. Catherine xo

  4. Fine looking chicken Chris and some fine bourbon like ole George Dickel always brings a special touch to everything. Homemade IS best.

  5. I agree with Steph - looks amazing and I even have some George Dickel about. I like cooking the beans under the chicken.

  6. I love the first photo - the blurred x-mas tree in the background makes the photo look really festive and cool.

    The chicken looks flavorful & delicious, like usual. I love that you put the pan of beans underneath to catch all the cooked drippings from the chicken. Brilliant!

  7. Beautiful photo with the christmas tree in the back Chris!

  8. The chicken looks beautiful, Chris! What a delicious sauce....full of flavor! Happy Holidays!