Cooking a barbeque chicken is one of those things that’s infinitely easier when you follow a few simple tips. Tom Scott, store manager for Cannings Free Range Butchers’s Toorak location, reckons the trick is to make sure the chicken doesn’t dry out. That’s why he recommends a nice salty brine to keep the chook moist, with added herbs and citrus for some extra flavour notes. You can brine it for as little as two hours, or as long as 24.
“If you haven’t brined your chicken, the heat can really creep up and dry out the breast,” he says. “But if you brine it, it’ll essentially be the juiciest chicken you’ve ever eaten.”
Some other tips: use a free-range chook, and get your butcher to butterfly it so it cooks evenly. All Cannings stores (there are eight across Melbourne) sell free-range chickens exclusively, sourced from the family-owned Victorian farm Hazeldenes.
“I’ve always found free-range to have a ... much nicer flavour and just all-round tenderness,” says Scott.
As for the dry rub, he recommends McCormick’s Grill Mates Chipotle & Roasted Garlic Dry Marinade for a balance of smokiness and sweetness, with a kick of moderate garlic and black pepper.
“It’s a really nice rub,” he says. “It’s not overly hot and it brings a lot of flavours into the chicken. It absorbs really well and makes the skin go nice and crispy.”
The final component in Scott’s barbeque-chicken recipe is a herb-lime butter that helps crisp the skin and slightly softens the spice level (though you can add bird’s eye chillies to crank that up). Just make sure you drizzle the butter over the chicken so you don’t wash the rub off – Scott splashes the butter over it with a basting brush. As for what to serve with it, go for a simple, classic side such as a creamy potato salad or fresh greens.
“It’s a quick, easy dinner,” says Scott. “So just bang together some quick, easy sides for it.”
Cannings barbeque chicken with McCormick Grill Mates Chipotle & Roasted Garlic Dry Marinade
Preparation time: 2.5 hours–24 hours (depending on brine time)
1.6kg Cannings free-range whole chicken, butterflied
200g salt flakes
3 large pieces of celery, chopped
2 stems’ worth of rosemary leaves
4 bay leaves
6 sprigs of thyme
1 lemon, quartered
1 40g sachet of McCormick Grill Mates Chipotle & Roasted Garlic Dry Marinade
Juice of 4 limes
4 sliced bird’s eye chillies (optional)
1 small bunch of coriander (finely chopped)
1 bunch of lemon thyme (picked off stem or chopped)
Pinch of salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g salted butter
First, find a container large enough to accommodate the chicken and the brine.
Make the brine: dissolve salt in 500ml warm water. Add celery, rosemary, bay leaves, thyme and lemon. Add the rest of the water and pop into the fridge until chilled. (Do not add the chicken at this stage.) Once the brine has cooled, add the bird upside-down. Leave to brine in liquid in the fridge for at least 2 hours (overnight is ideal). Remove bird from brine and generously coat with McCormick Grill Mates Chipotle & Roasted Garlic Dry Marinade on both sides.
In a bowl, mix lime juice, chillies (if using), coriander, lemon thyme, salt and garlic. Melt butter, add to bowl and mix.
Pop your barbeque on a low heat and let it warm up for a bit, then place chicken on the barbeque. For a large barbeque, it works best with the outside burners on low-medium and the chicken placed in the centre. Drizzle the herb-lime butter over chicken, saving enough to drizzle more throughout the cook. (Don’t use a brush to baste directly onto the chook – it will take the rub off.) Cook for 50–60 minutes on low-medium heat, drizzling with more herb-lime butter every 10–15 minutes. Once the chicken is done, let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with McCormick. For more Grill Mates seasoning, check out McCormick Grill Mates Smokin Texas Slow and Low BBQ Rub and McCormick Grill Mates Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Dry Marinade.