Fire up your food
Mix up your menu with the simply art of smoking your meat
FIRE is a wondrous chemical reaction that has shaped Homo Sapiens into what we are today.
It gave us the ability to eat things that would normally be inedible.
Take the potato for instance; this starchy tuber of the hemlock family will make you quite ill if ingested raw, not to mention pathogenic bird meats that will down right kill you with salmonella.
Of course we’re forgetting the best part of what fire does to our food; it makes it taste awesome.
Marshmallows toasted over an open camp fire, chargrilled steaks on a Sunday arvo. Oh, and there’s caramel; milk and sugar blended together and cooked until thick and golden and sticky.
I love fire, low and slow with aromatic hardwoods added for flavour and aroma, and you will too when you sample The Culinary Barbarian’s, smoked and blackened barbecue chicken with slow roasted sweet potatoes.
Find this and more great recipes at www.culinarybarbarian.com. Smoked and blackened barbecue chicken with slow roast sweet potatoes
1 whole chicken, about 2.5kg 1.5kg sweet potato 1 cup vinegar 6 pack of beer (5 to drink and 1 sacrificial)
¼ cup salt ¼ cup brown sugar 1 tbs whole black peppercorns 2 tsp bruised juniper berries 2 tsp whole cloves 1 onion, cut into 8 3 garlic cloves crushed Water to cover
¼ cup sweet paprika 1 tbs salt 2 tbs of coarsely ground black pepper ¼ cup brown sugar 2 tsp garlic powder 2 tsp onion powder 1 tbs mustard powder 1 tbs chilli powder ½ tsp nutmeg 1 tbs allspice 1 tbs cumin
Probe thermometer Gas or charcoal barbecue with fuel Smoking box (if using gas) Light flavoured wood chips or chunks like fruitwoods (apple, cherry, plum) other hardwoods (mesquite) or even sugarcane. The size of the woodchips or chunks depends on the type of smoker you are using or if you’re using a smoking box (metal box or disposable aluminium tray to be placed over direct heat that causes the wood to char and then smoulder and smoke. In this instance I used my new charcoal smoker so I required large chunks about 5cmx5cmx5cm roughly. These need to be soaked in liquid to maximise the smokiness. Water will do but I like to soak mine in a combination of beer and vinegar. Plus, it gives me an excuse to buy beer. Oh… buy beer.
On a plastic cutting board, place the chicken breast side down and with kitchen shears, cut the chicken up the spine from neck to tail. Stretch and flatten the chicken and with the shears, carefully remove the spine while keeping most of the meat intact. With a sharp boning knife, remove the breast cartilage, the pelvic bone and the ribs. Turn the butterflied chicken over and clip the wing tips with the kitchen shears. Make the brine by combining all of the brining dry ingredients, garlic and onions in a sealable plastic container, large enough to fit the chicken. Add a little boiling water and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved then top with cold water. Submerge the chicken, seal and refrigerate overnight. The next day, preheat the smoker/ barbecue. The heat we want for the chicken is between 120-130C. This is quite hot for most barbecue smoking but we’re after firm moist chicken, not falling apart. Soak the wood chips/chunks. Make the dry rub by combining all of the spice rub ingredients and mixing until well combined. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towel. Ensure the chicken is dry all over, especially the skin. Apply the rub liberally all over the chicken until completely covered. When the barbecue hits temp, pop the chicken and the whole sweet potatoes in. If using a gas grill barbecue, offset the chicken away from direct heat and place the soaked wood chips in their smoker box over the heat. If using charcoal, place your wood chunks directly on to the coals. Close the lid. In about 15 minutes you should see white, aromatic smoke. When the smoke dies down it’s time to add more chips. Be organised and add these quickly; every time you lift that lid you’re adding 10-15 minutes to the cooking time. Cook for 2 ½ hours and turn. Return the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes. The chicken will be blackened all over from the smoke curing the spice rub and the potatoes will also be blackened and slightly shrivelled. Rest the chicken for 20 minutes. Peel the skin from the potatoes white still hot by holding with a tea towel and using tongs. When slicing the chicken you should hear a crackle when slicing through the skin and the breast meat and legs will be succulent and moist. You should see pink rings where the smoke has penetrated the flesh. Serve with the sweet potatoes, pan dripping gravy and your favourite slaw.