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Simon & Garfunkel Chicken

"When you are at home, even if the chicken is a little burnt, what's the big deal? Relax." Jacques Pepin

Simon & Garfunkel Rub is a wonderful herb based rub that is great on chicken, turkey, and veggies. Click the link for the recipe.

As with most chicken recipes, I recommend you cut the bird into parts: The breasts, the wings, and the thigh-drumstick combo. They are different thicknesses which means they will cook at different rates. By cutting them apart you can monitor each part individually with your trusty reliable digital meat thermometer so nothing is overcooked or undercooked. Overcooked chicken breasts are cardboard. Undercooked they are hazardous.

Getting chicken off at the right temp is the single most important thing to do to insure a great meal. Remove the white meat at about 160°F and let it rise to 165°F, the safe temp as recommended by USDA and Yours Truly (click here for more about ideal meat temps). Dark meat should go a little higher, about 170°F, not for safety, because dark meat can feel a little slimy if cooked under 170°F.

The easiest way to cut parts is with scissors, not a knife. They're also great for snipping herbs, cutting pizza, butcher string, and many other tasks. Get sturdy stainless blades so you can cut through the ribs of chickens. The best models come apart at the hinge so they can go in the dishwasher. Try the Henckel Take Apart Kitchen Shears from a respected German knife maker, or try my favorite, the OXO Good Grips Professional Poultry Shears (above).

Recipe

Makes. Enough for 2- 4 people

Takes. 15 minutes to prepare, an hour or two to sit in the fridge (optional) and 30 to 40 minutes to cook

Ingredients

1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken or precut parts

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil

2 tablespoons (maybe less) of Simon & Garfunkel Rub

1/4 teaspoon table salt

Method

1) Cut out the spine and then cut the bird into parts: Breasts, wings, and drum with thigh combo. If you wish, remove the skins (see sidebar).

2) Oil the chicken parts all over with vegetable oil or olive oil and sprinkle the rub on lightly. Then sprinkle on the salt to your taste (there is no salt in Simon & Garfunkel). Don't make a thick coat of rub. Leave it in the fridge for a few hours. The oil helps extract the flavor from the herbs (they are oil soluble) and helps hold in moisture during cooking.

3) Preheat the grill with a 2-zone setup. On a gas grill, turn the burners on one side to medium or high as seen in the photo at right. On a charcoal grill, light your coals and push them all to one side. Shoot for 325°F on the other, indirect heat side. You cannot measure the temp properly with a center mounted lid thermometer. Get a good digital grill thermometer that has a probe that you can place on the indirect side near the grate, where the meat is. 325°F is a good temp for browning skin and melting fat, and it is not too hot so there will not be a lot of shrinkage or toughening of proteins the meat. The skin will shrink a bit. If you haven't read it yet, now would be a good time to look over my article on calibrating your grill.

If you want, you can throw some wood chips, pellets, or chunks, on the the fire. Don't soak the wood (click here to read more about how to use wood and why you don't need to soak it).

4) Place the meat on the indirect heat side, as in the top frame of the picture at right. I am using a product called GrillGrates to distribute heat more evenly and make killer grill marks. I strongly recommend them for gas grills. The white specs on the right side were wood pellets that have given their all for the chicken and turned to ash (ellets are perfect for GrillGrates).

breast cooked at two temps

On a gas grill you probably won't need to flip the pieces, so just let them get nice and brown on the bottoms, but check to make sure the bottoms aren't burning. As the meat roasts on the indirect side, juices and flavors aren't squeezed out by the high heat, the skin doesn't burn, and there will be no flareups. When the white meat hits about 150°F, flip it skin side down and place it on the other side over the direct heat. Move the dark meat over the heat when it hits about 160°F. On a gas grill, I crank it full bore and check every minute or two so the skins get good and dark, but don't burn. In the photo above, I have stacked the dark meat as far from the heat as possible since they have hit 160F. As soon as the breasts are done on the right side, any moment now, I will move the dark meat over to brown the skin.

Use a good digital meat thermometer so you do not overcook or undercook. At 325°F a 3 pound bird will be ready in 45 to 60 minutes.

This page was revised

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