Championing great ingredients and the importance of provenance, Ben Quinn shares three recipes from his new, self-published book Good Value Food with Good Values.
1 whole chicken (the best quality you can afford, from someone you know and like)
100g table salt
50g caster sugar
3kg good charcoal
150ml cider vinegar
30g soft brown sugar
Get the chicken out of the fridge and season liberally with Items 2. Let the ‘brine’ do its job. At least an hour at room temperature or overnight in a fridge if you are an organised person! I’m not!
Get the chicken out of the fridge an hour before you start cooking. This gives you a chance to set up your charcoal barbeque in an ‘offset’ position , or let your oven warm to 180 °C.
Once the oven is hot or the coals are white hot, add the chicken. In the barbeque, this will need to be on the side with no direct heat. The indirect heat will cook the chicken with the flavour or smoke from the charcoal or, if you want, from wood chips or a small hard wood log that you can add to the other side.
Put the lid on the barbeque and leave it well alone! Or simply put it in the middle of the oven and do the same. This is when you should open a beer or bottle of wine.
After 30 minutes of cooking, have a quick look. All should be good but don’t expect a massive change of colour. Cover the barbeque quickly and go again.
Keep checking every 30 minutes or so. After an hour and a half, check the legs. Try and twist the drumstick bone. If it comes out, it’s done! If it resists, let it be.
Mix Items 4 and pour into a resting tray.
Once the bird feels good, remove it and rest it in a warm place for at least 20 minutes in the resting tray. Feel free to baste it every now and then.
Carve up the bird and make sure you pour the resting juices over it.
What does ‘offset’ mean? Fire on one side, food on the other! Simple as that!
Watch the smoke. Blue is good, but puffy white stuff is bad. If you get loads of this, take a peek. Your chicken is probably rendering too hard and splashing juices and fat on the coals, causing a flare up. You can remedy this by sacrificing some beer on the spot where the smoke is coming from, water does the same – just a quick splash and return the lid quickly.
Extracted from Good Value Food with Good Values by Ben Quinn, Jon Mckenzie and Jon Herbert.