Butterflied Chicken on my Vision Pro Grill

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 …
butterflied_chicken
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.

water_tray

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.
onions_in_pan
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.

chicken_under_pan
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.

bbq_chicken
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.

BBQ Chicken and Rice
The Finished Product

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.

BBQ Lamb and Potatoes on my Kamado Ceramic Grill

I had a boneless leg of lamb and some new potatoes. Of course there was no choice but to produce some BBQ lamb on the grill. This preparation really was very straightforward and turned out wonderfully.

Marinade for Lamb:

  • 1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4c good olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/8c white wine
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

I crushed the coriander and fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar. They don’t have to be too finely crushed – just enough to release their flavours and aromas. Then I combined everything in a bowl big enough to accommodate the lamb. Using a whisk I mixed thoroughly. I added the lamb and turned a couple of time to coat with the marinade. Then I covered it and left it to marinade while I prepared the BBQ. (I imagine it would be fine to leave overnight as well, although I might hold off using the full amount of the lemon juice until shortly before cooking just to prevent the acidity from pre-cooking the meat too much).

I made a lumpwood charcoal fire in my Vision Pro Kamado grill, setting the heat diffusing lava stone in place. When everything was up to about 375 degrees F, I added some hickory wood chips to the coals and put the lamb on a rack over the lava stone. After about 20 mins I added some medium sized new potatoes just washed, oiled and seasoned. I checked internal temperature of the lamb after 45 mins and found that it was only about 120, so I left it for another 15 mins at which point it got to 135. I took it off to rest under a foil tent for about 10 mins before serving.

The BBQ lamb was excellent, as were the potatoes which needed absolutely no butter – they already tasted like butter.

The finished product
The finished product

Duck Breasts BBQ’ed on Charcoal

Having searched around for how to treat duck breast on a charcoal bbq I wasn’t really satisfied with any of the possibilities. I wanted to render off the skin fat like I would in cast iron, but also infuse the duck with good ol bbq smoke. I figured that slow smoking would not deal with the skin properly, but direct grilling would likely result in serious flare up as the fat was rendered. So here’s what I did …

Having searched around for how to treat duck breast on a charcoal bbq I wasn’t really satisfied with any of the possibilities. I wanted to render off the skin fat like I would in cast iron, but also infuse the duck with good ol bbq smoke. I figured that slow smoking would not deal with the skin properly, but direct grilling would likely result in serious flare up as the fat was rendered. So here’s what I did …

First I soaked some Jack Daniels smoking chips.

Then I made a marinade from: apple juice, splash of Canadian whiskey, smaller splash of cider vinegar, salt & pepper.

I scored the duck breast skins in diamonds, being very careful not to cut the flesh underneath. I injected each duck breast with the marinade lengthwise, and then allowed them to sit in the marinade in the fridge while I got the BBQ ready.

I got a lumpwood charcoal fire going in the Vision Pro with the lava stone heat diffuser in place. Once everything was up to a reasonable cooking temperature Ilifted the lava stone with a heavy duty oven glove and slid my drained wood chips inside. I then cooked some oiled and seasoned fennel in a veggie tray on the rack (approx 15 mins).

Once that was done I wrapped the fennel in some tin foil to keep it hot, and removed the rack, leaving just the hot lava stone in place. I drained my duck breasts and dried them with some paper towel, then placed them skin side down on the lava stone and shut the lid. The dome thermometer was about 400. Some great smelling smoke soon started coming from the exhaust, but I was confident that there would be no flare up inside as the stone was absorbing the fat.

In the meantime I began a simple cream peppercorn sauce on a gas ring. I first put some Canadian whiskey in a pan and reduced to about half. I added some 35% cream and allowed this to bubble and reduce a bit also. A couple of mins before serving I added a tbsp of cider vinegar, and about 2 tbsp green peppercorns (from a can of good quality French variety).

After around 8 mins I opened the BBQ lid and flipped the breasts. The skin was a beautiful golden brown. I shut the lid again and continued to cook for about 3-4 mins. I removed them to a plate and covered in foil and let them rest for approx 2-3 mins.

I served them uncut with the sauce poured over and the fennel on the side. My wife and I both agreed that this was by far the best duck breast we had ever experienced (and we’ve had a few).

P.S. Next time I will take pictures