I've been working my way through Gary Wiviott's low and slow book (not a bad book, but he's a bit narrow minded) and he has you cooking a lot of chicken at first ...mostly so you learn your smoker, how to create a nice thin-blue smoke bed of charcoal and to maintain temperatures from 225 F and up. Good stuff. He says that low and slow makes the skin 'rubbery', but I'd call it more 'kinda hard' ...not crispy. OK, I'm past those chapters and almost done with the book.
I BBQ'd a spatchcock chicken for the first time last night, Cajun rub and apple smoke ...turned out great, and I cooked it the 'hot and fast' way instead of low and slow ...but I was still disappointed in the skin. I'm wondering WHEN is the best time to crisp it up, e.g. by putting it directly over the coals? Anyone experimented with this? Here's what I did and what I question:
- Used my Weber Kettle, big drip pan on one side so I could use a full can of lit coals as indirect heat on the other side. Here in Alaska, this time of year, the full can only produced 310 F in the kettle (all vents wide open) and it dropped to 300 F by the time the chicken was done - total 70 minutes cooking time on a bird that was 5-1/2 lbs dressed and spatchcocked.
- I put the bird skin side up on the indirect heat side for 25 minutes, flipped it to skin side down for another 25 minutes. Then I checked the temp (160 F). Flipped it back to skin side up and I left it in for another 20 minutes. Skin looked fairly dark, so I didn't crisp the skin (say, by putting it skin side down over the coals for a few minutes), and final temp in the breast or thigh was 178 F - a tad overdone.
The skin looked good, but was NOT crispy, and was kind of tough and stiff. I'd prefer the skin more delicate and certainly more crispy, and a bit of black here and there would be fine with me/us.
Question: Should I start the chicken skin side down over the coals to get a seal and the start of a crisp before I move it to the indirect side for general cooking? Skin side down halfway through the cook over the coals before the skin toughens up? Would the skin be less tough if I crisped it up as a final step before taking it out? And no ...not interested in breaking out the propane torch ...with hot coals right there, there's no need for gimmicks (in my book).
Thanks, any advice on how to get the perfect crispy chicken skin while cooking fast and hot would be appreciated ...the chicken meat itself was falling-off-the-bone tender (a whole leg fell off when I picked it up) and juicy, and the smoke penetration was perfect (one large-ish block of wood place on the coals at start). No complaints on the meat ..just the skin!