1. Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

"Pit Chicken" aka "Roadside Chicken" for you West Coast guys...

Discussion in 'Grilling Chicken' started by chef jimmyj, May 7, 2012.

  1. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I came across a thread from 2010 and it reminded me of the Pit Chicken my wife and I enjoyed when we first moved to PA. A variation is made at every fund raising Chicken BBQ done at Fire Houses all over the State and at sporadic Roadside Stands. These guys do some amazing food. They basically build a big box out of Corrugated Steel and Expanded Metal. They build a fire on one side of the box then place Top Round Beef Roasts next to it then add the EM on top to make a Grill that can cook on direct or indirect heat. For $5 you get a Half Chicken or over stuffed Beef Sandwich, Corn or Beans and a Biscuit. The meat is doused frequently with a Spicy Vinegar and Oil based Sauce. The sauce adds good flavor and the meat is very tasty, tender and juicy. So I had to fire my own version and thought I would share with you guys. I have been using my MES40 a lot lately but this cook was screaming for me to go Old School and fire up the New Braunfels... The Pit Chicken was served with Grilled Vegetables and Grilled Corn. First some Qview then, as is my style, the Recipes. Enjoy...JJ

    First the Essentials...300*F Pit, a Cold One (actually worked out to 6) and the Sauce for Basting...


    Update: With the addition of the Egg Yolks and Emulsifying, the Sauce will be a Milky Pink color not Clear like this first run...

    The Chix Halves were from 2-3Lb Broilers and were in the Brine for 6 hours then sprinkled with my Chix Bubba Q Rub...


    The Fire set up was one Chimney Kingsford Original unlit and one Chimney load lit and added on top. I was looking for just the Oak flavor from the charcoal so no additional Smoke wood was added but any flavor would work if you choose to add it...


    I let them cook for 2 hours Basting every 10-15 then tossed them on the hot side to color them up. I was a little disappointed that the thin skin tore on most of the halves. No affect on flavor just not as pretty. The IT of the biggest Thigh was 155*F so off to a 350*F to crisp up and finish cooking to 175*F...


    Now for the Healthy Stuff... Sweet Corn with Balsamic Vinegar and Roasted Garlic Oil marinated Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Vidalia Onions and White Mushrooms, check out the size of the 'Shrooms...


    Onto the Fire. Turn frequently and baste with the Vinegar/Oil Marinade. Grill until the Mushroom get brown and shrink. The water evaporates and concentrates the flavor. The rest should be tender but not mushy. The Onions go on first for 5-10 minutes, then add Mushrooms next, 5 minutes, to get them a head start. The Squashes go next, for 10 minutes, and the Corn last, it goes quick 5 minutes or so. All toll the Veggies were on about Thirty minutes...


    I'm getting hungry again just Posting these goodies...Here's the Chef's Plate... Good Stuff...


    The Recipes...

    Poultry Brine

    1/2C Kosher Salt

    2T Paprika

    2T Gran Garlic

    2T Gran Onion

    2T Black Peppercorns

    2T Dry Thyme

    1C Cider Vinegar

    1 Gallon Water

    Mix and Soak Bird 6-24hours.

    Drain and Dry Bird, Rest in refrigerator over night to dry skin.

    Chix Bubba Q Rub

    1/2C Sugar in the Raw (Turbinado)

    2T Sweet Paprika (Hungarian)

    1T Kosher Salt

    1T Chili Powder (contains some Cumin and Oregano) Ancho Chile is same without cumin, oregano etc.

    1T Granulated Garlic

    1T Granulated Onion

    1-2tsp Bell's Poultry Seasoning

    1tsp Black Pepper, more if you like

    1/2tsp Grnd Allspice

    Cayenne or Chipotle Pwd to taste, start with 1/2tsp and go from there.

    Combine all and season Chicken on all sides. Store in an airtight container.

    Pit Chix Basting Sauce

    2C Apple Cider Vinegar

    1C Olive or other Oil

    2T Worcestershire Sauce or more to taste

    1/4C Brown Sugar

    1T Smoked Paprika

    2 tsp Granulated Garlic

    2 tsp Granulated Onion

    2 tsp Fine Grind Black Pepper

    1 tsp Celery Salt

    1 tsp Cayenne Pepper or Chipotle powder. Add more if you like Heat.

    1/2 tsp Grnd Allspice

    2Lrg Egg Yolks

    Place all but the Oil in a Blender and puree on high as you slowly drizzle in the Oil to emulsify. Place in a Sports bottle and shake before squirting or basting the Chicken. Grill the seasoned Chicken over indirect heat until juices run clear or the Internal Temp reaches 165*F, about 1.5 hours for Bone-in Breasts,175*F, about 2 hours for Leg Quarters and Halves. Squirt or baste the Chix every 10-15 minutes. If needed you can briefly place the Chix on the hot side of the Grill, turning frequently, to Crisp the Skin and achieve the desired Color.

    Makes 26 ounces

    This stuff is Tangy with a Sweet and Spicy Finish. If you wish, instead of Brining, you can make a Double batch and add 1T Kosher Salt to half. Marinate the Chix for 4-6 hours with the salted half of the Basting Sauce then use the rest to baste during the Cook.

    I would squirt the Sauce on with a Sports Bottle about every 10-15 minutes and used all but 1/2 cup that I took to the Table to add a fresh Punch of flavor.

    BTW as I reviewed this recipe today...with the addition of 1T Red Pepper Flakes, 1 tsp of Kosher Salt and delete the Oil...This would make one " Helluva Good Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce " !!! I will have to try it on some leftover PP. Will let you know...JJ

    UPDATE:  After all the info on the Cornell Sauce, I tried this recipe with the addition of 2 Lrg Egg Yolks. I put everything but the Oil in a Blender and gave it a whirl. While on high I slowly drizzled the Oil in. The egg helps emulsify the Oil and Vinegar together and the whole deal thickens slighty. The whole deal stays mixed several hours but the Bonus is the Basting Sauce sticks to the fatty chicken skin much better and adds more flavor...Thanks for the info guys...JJ
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
    disco likes this.
  2. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    This li'l ol' contraption, lol?  You can't see them, but hanging off the back of the grates are another set; you flip them up and 'trap' the chicken between them and two people, one on each side of the pit, flip them over then open them back up to rearrange and test temps, baste, etc.  You first baste them so the egg in it can congeal, not last.  You rearrange them to keep them cooking evenly.  In the base of the pit you fill it about 8"-10" of charcoal and light it a few hours before, and add some split wood now and then (sound familiar?!).

    From my post on Fireman's Chicken:


    The 'oil and vinegar sauce' used was made by Robert C. Baker, professor from Cornell, who invented the sauce to introduce an entirely new breed of chicken he developed at Cornell in 1946 - 1950 that he called "the broiler", smaller than "the fryer":




    It's history:


    Just grilled some for dinner tonight, using boneless breasts butterflied and cut in half, got one little piece left:


    Saved for Linda's lunch tomorrow!  I butterfly and split the half-breasts so they don't take too long to cook and get too done on the outside while getting the internal high enough, and always use boneless skinless half-breasts split in the center now.  They come out juicy and tender with great flavor and don't take that long.

    However, I've had leg quarters and bone-in breasts and halves for many many many years from 'acquiring' the recipe from the fire department in the '60's, just didn't have the health concern then like I do now.  Enjoy!
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Interesting info Pops! I have had the chicken locally but never up in Endicot NY where my Aunt introduced me to the wonderful world of Spiedies. I can only figure the Egg is an emulsifier to keep all the ingredients in suspension. I did have to shake vigorously before each application to get it mixed. Does it have an impact on forming a Crust of sorts on the Chicken skin? I will have to add 1 or 2 Egg Yolks to my Recipe for the next time. I also thought about adding Mustard as was mentioned in one of your articles...JJ
  4. meowey

    meowey Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  5. Great looking chicken and interesting info! Thanks guys for the education!
  6. bwsmith_2000

    bwsmith_2000 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Chef Jimmy J, (and others)

         Thanks a million for this post. I love that chicken and will certainly try the recipes. I've been looking for this for quite a while. 
  7. jrod62

    jrod62 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Wow . Get so much great info here at SMF .
    THANKS , copy and saved in my " evernotes" files.
    Both chef jj and pops have there own folder in
    My evernote to save all the info from them.
    By the way food looks great.
    Let me know when the house next to you go up for sale.
    I'm moving in ! :yahoo:
  8. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    This style of chicken is also very popular in Europe.  I discovered this delicious item while stationed in West Germany.  You couldn't go to any of the gatherings without finding some variation of this offering.
  9. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    Your mushrooms just reminded me of something I did a few years back. They were really good, but for some reason I forgot about them and haven't done them since.  I guess you'd call them stuffed mushrooms, and I did them in the oven.  But now that I've thought about it, I'm going to try this in a smoker.  Here's what I did:

    Wash the mushrooms, and pull the stems out.  Dice the stems and sautee them in EVOO and spice to taste.  Kind of like ABTs, there's no wrong way to do this part.  Sauteed mushrooms are hard to screw up.  I used random spices, a little red onion and maybe some garlic and a few splashes of red wine vinegar.  As I think about it, I might toss in a little cooked bacon, and maybe sautee some sweet peppers in with the mix for color and taste.

    Once the stems are good and soft, you puree them.  I used a bay mixer.  Then mix in cream cheese.  Get everything blended together in a paste, then put a drop of the mixture in the underside of the mushroom tops.  From there I put them in the oven, but I think I'm going to smoke some this Sunday for Mother's Day.  I guess you could bacon wrap these and make them similar to an ABT, as I think about it.  At any rate, they were really good.

    Glad I saw your entry.  I'd totally forgotten about those and they were really good.
  10. bluebombersfan

    bluebombersfan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Looks awesome Chef Jimmy!!!  thanks for posting the recipes!!!
  11. Nothing quite like Cornell chicken, remember first time my wife made it, following the recipe exactly when it said "mix by hand" in went her hands right into the sauce...what a hoot.  [​IMG]
  12. That chicken looks stupendous JJ.  Bet that corn was pretty awesome too.
  13. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for all the great responses...Grilled corn is my favorite way to eat it. I said to my wife, "If I knew the Mushrooms were going to be that nice I would have had you get some for Stuffing!" May be next week...JJ
  14. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Chef Jimmy J:  The Chief B.S. Detector (my wife) and I want to thank you for the Pit Chicken Recipe.  I did up  some leg and thigh quarters yesterday and they disappeared.  Excellent.  I know this is going to be a hit in August when I hit the road to Denver for the annual family gathering.[​IMG]
  15. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

     WOW...Thank you so much! I'm glad your family enjoyed it. I plan to put a couple Egg yolks or 2 T Mustard to act as an Emulsifier and hold the oil and vinegar together, in a similar manner to Pops Cornell Recipe. Seems like an interesting concept.

    I have one of them Detectors as well and 3 in Training! They all get together over a new dish and rip me apart like 4 Chopped or Iron Chef Judges...Sometimes takes a couple of runs to get them in agreement...JJ
  16. Yup, that's the way it's done all around this area.

  17. Yes, the egg is intended as an emulsifier and bits of egg do brown up on the skin giving it it's distinct character.

    Some folks do add mustard or mayo as an emulsifier, but we've always kept the recipe traditional because that's what the crowds here demand.

    This is what Cornell chicken traditionally looks like.


    Last edited: May 11, 2012
  18. smokingma

    smokingma Smoke Blower

    Just wanted to thank Chef JimmyJ for the awesome recipes.  I tried the pit chicken yesterday and it was a hit with the family.  Imagine grilled chicken with no bbq sauce.  Thanks for the alternative. The brine made all the pieces so juicy.  Here's the Qviewnof the chicken near 175:


  19. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You are welcome SmokinGMA...Your Bird looks beautiful!  After info from all the Guys above, thanks, I made this Pit Chicken again this past weekend with the addition of 2 Egg Yolks and running everything through a Blender...It was Much Better! The sauce coats better and adds more flavor and the skin comes out prettier too...JJ
  20. SFLsmkr1

    SFLsmkr1 Legendary Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★


    PA style chicken bbq. Ahh was good living in Ephrata, Lancaster County PA