The Perfect Taco Tuesday FEAT. Guest Recipe

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“You don’t need that…but it does make it WAY better,” Ben said as he put the finishing touches on his chicken recipe, so detailed that it reads like a novel. ‘A Good Cook’ is an important element of the perfect Taco Tuesday. Ben McKee has taken my Taco Tuesdays to the next level. This man is passionate about cooking, and he agreed to share his recipe for the best chicken I’ve ever tasted. He’s a musician by trade, but he was certainly a Michelin star chef in a past life. Check out his recipe below!

bbq chicken

Ben can cook a chicken in fifty million ways. All of them delicious. The recipe below is for the chicken pictured above.

Ben McKee’s Whole BBQ Chicken

This method is really more like baking on a grill, and the seasonings can be changed to suit your taste or to feature any aromatic ingredients that you might happen to have handy. I’ve only done it on a charcoal grill, so that’s the cooking method I’ll describe here, although I suspect it would be quite a bit easier on a gas grill, I believe that it would lose that delicious smokiness that the charcoal gives it.

Prep Time:
 – 1-2 days

Cook Time:
– 1-1.5 hours

What You Will Need:
– Charcoal for your awesome charcoal grill, hopefully a Weber.
– Kitchen twine
– 1 Large bowl
– Paper towels
– Meat thermometer
– 1 whole, fresh, organic, free range, happy chicken
– 1 onion (not red), finely chopped, stem reserved
– 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
– 3-4 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped, stems reserved
– 1-2 tablespoons oregano
– 1 lemon, zested, sliced
– 1/2 cup butter at room temperature or unrefined coconut oil
– Kosher salt, or some salt with similarly coarse crystals
-1 tablespoon (+/-) onion powder or granulated onion
– 1-2 teaspoon(s) sweet paprika
– cayenne pepper to taste

What You Do:
Chicken Prep:
– Get your chicken at least a day in advance. Remove the neck and innards. Save them if you’re planning on making a stock with your chicken bones. (The liver will bitter your broth! Fry it up with some onions instead).
– Rinse the chicken well, inside and out, and dry THOROUGHLY, inside and out. You want dry skin so it will be crispy golden delicious when you take it off the grill.
– Sprinkle the chicken generously with coarse salt and pepper, inside and out, and put it in a large bowl, breast side up. You want visible salt crystals sprinkled evenly atop the chicken skin.
– Put the chicken in the fridge UNCOVERED for 24 hours. (48 hours is even better).
– Take the chicken out a couple of hours before you plan to cook it to allow it to come to room temperature.

Seasoning:
– Combine butter, onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper to taste, and 1 tablespoon of salt. Mix into a paste.
– Separate the skin from the breast of the chicken by sliding your hand gently between the skin and the meat and working your fingers around. Spread the paste evenly around the breast, beneath the skin.
– Place any remaining parsley and oregano, stems and all, along with the stem end and any other onion scraps, the sliced lemon and any other aromatic leavings you happen to find in your kitchen (use discretion) into the cavity of the bird.
– Truss your chicken.

Grilling:
– Once you’ve gotten your coals fired up, spread them evenly along the left and right sides of your grill. If your grill has baskets on the side for smoking with wood chips, just put the charcoal in those.
– Keep the vents open. You want the grill hot (450° +/-) at the beginning.
– Place the chicken in the middle of the grill, breast side up, so that it is between the charcoal piles, but has no charcoal directly beneath it.
– Cover the grill immediately.
– After 15-20 minutes, check the bird. You’re looking for some nice color on the skin. It should look almost done.
– When it’s starting to look delicious, close the vents most of the way and sprinkle a little beer (or water, I guess) on the coals to calm them down a bit. You’re aiming to get the temperature inside the grill down to around 300°- 350°.
– Check the bird after another 30 minutes. You’re looking for the temperature in the breast to read 150°. Once you’re there, take the bird off and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.” – Ben McKee

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