This was quite an experiment as I wanted to bake some rice in the grill to go with the chicken, so I decided to use the cast iron pan both as a weight on top of the chicken, and as the cooking utensil for the rice. Here’s how it went …
A few hours before cooking I butterflied my chicken. Actually I did semi-butterfly because I took out the back bone only, and left the breast bone in. In hindsight I would take the breastbone out also because I think that would make it easier for the pan to stay level on top. The reasons why that would be important become apparent later. I decided to use east-Indian curry flavours for this meal. So I mixed some curry paste, curry powder, yogurt, salt and pepper, to make a fairly stiff paste. This I inserted under the skin of both breasts and legs. Then I turned the bird over and just seasoned the underside with salt and pepper. I covered the chicken and left it in the fridge to marinade.
Closer to dinner time I made the fire in my Vision Pro grill using lumpwood charcoal. I put in place the lava stone heat diffuser. On top of that I put a tray of water with the back bone that I had cut out of the chicken. I did this in case the juice from the chicken would make a gravy later, but at the end they were a bit too concentrated and charred. As it turned out there was no real need for gravy anyway.
While that was getting up to temperature set out my ingredients for the rice. To make a portion for two I used 1/2 cup basmati rice, a few cardamon pods, some fennel seeds (about 1 tsp), a small diced onion, and a thinly sliced clove of garlic. For cooking liquid I warmed up 1 cup of chicken stock + 1/2 c water with a pinch of added salt (the stock already had some salt).
I rinsed the rice a couple of times and left it to one side.
Then I put some oil (approx 2 tbsp) in the cold cast iron pan and added all the dry ingredients except the rice, and stirred to make sure everything was coated with the oil.
I put this pan on the grill for about 10-15 mins with the lid closed. In hindsight I think that this stage could have been started at the same time as the chicken went on to avoid overcooking the rice.
Next I removed the pan temporarily, placed my chicken skin side down on the hot grill, sprayed the bottom of the pan with PAM to stop it adhering to the chicken, and placed the pan on top. I added the rice to the pan and stirred in the liquids. This was when I wished that the chicken was fully butterflied which might have allowed for a more level pan. I covered the pan with foil as tightly as I could and closed the lid of the grill again.
I let it cook for 15 mins, and then flipped the chicken to skin side up, replacing the pan again. I cooked it for another 10 mins and then checked everything for doneness. The rice was fully cooked so I removed that. The chicken was still around 140 degree F internally, so I left it on for another 10-15 mins, at which point it was perfect.
I let the chicken rest for a few minutes. Then I cut it into 2 portions and served with the rice.
Everything turned out really well, although the rice was slightly overdone by this stage, hence why I would start the whole process at the same time as the chicken in future, and possibly pull it off sooner. I guess it would depend on the size of the chicken and the resulting cooking time. But the flavour of the rice was like nothing I’ve had before. It was really delicious. The chicken was extremely tender and flavourful. This was a winner.