Smart Chicken

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With our lovely summer weather coming to a close, I decided to spit roast a chicken last week end. I was running in and out the back door while draining the pool anyway, so why not throw something on the grill at least one more time this year. For those of you not familiar with high-end barbeque-grill speak, spit roasting is how you cook with the use of a rotisserie. While, in the privacy of my own home, I refer to spit roasting as rotisserate, rotisserating, or rotisserated, depending on what stage of the process I am in. However, when typing those words into my PC, I get those annoying little red squiggly lines underneath the words. So, for the sake of PC correctness, I’m going to use the term “spit roast” in my blog.

For all you grilling connoisseurs out there, is it just me or is chicken one of the most difficult meats to cook on a grill? I have always struggled getting it right. I remember one of the first times I tried to grill chicken on an old conventional flat charcoal grill: burned. Then, when I bought my first Weber grill: burned. I later upgraded to a gas grill: burned. My wife got so tired of burnt chicken she started cooking it in the oven first, and then would hand it over to me to add just a little bit of that smoky barbequed flavor from the grill: burned. Please don’t be offended by a little homophone humor; for me, cooking poultry on the grill was no paltry task.

At the beginning of this barbeque season, I bought myself a brand new gas grill along with an electric rotisserie to go on it. I knew that cooking chicken must be easier with a spit roaster. After all, I was only burning the chicken on one side, so if the bird is rotating while cooking, chances are, the heat will even out and the bird will be cooked to perfection. This seemed like a sound theory. However in practice, the rotation simply allowed the chicken to burn on all sides, leaving no surface unburned. But I was not to be deterred.

Last Saturday my wife bought a Smart Chicken from Wally World. Oh, this was going to be just terrific! Dumb chickens had outsmarted me for 55 years, and now I was supposed to cook a Smart Chicken? On the other hand, if this chicken is so smart, why is it going to be my supper? I fired up the grill and threaded the chicken onto the spit rod. I did not have any cooking string, so I carefully tied down the legs and wings with knitting yarn, the best substitute I could find in the house.

Now, if you are going to spit roast a chicken, you first have to rub it with a tasty seasoning. I used up all the Cajun Rub on the last bird I burned, so the wife found a new kind for us to try called Tailgate Rub. If you have ever seen a tailgate in Guymon Oklahoma, you would not want to rub anything on it, especially not something you planned to eat later on. However, this was Organic Tailgate Rub, so I went for it.

Saturday was a beautiful day, cooler and a bit windy. I thought sure I would need to turn up the heat on the grill just a little, at least in the beginning, you know, just to compensate for the cool breeze. I thought I knew what to expect when spit roasting in the wind.

As we sat down to eat the burnt bird, I apologized to the family once again. We laughed and made jokes about Smart Chickens. Our son wondered how you would test a chicken to see if it were smart or not. I decided you should test smart chickens and stupid chickens the same way, with a thermometer. We told every “why did the chicken cross the road” joke known to mankind. I told the story about the time many years ago when my dad, who was a volunteer fireman at the time, had taken us kids on a drive in the country to show us a burned down farmhouse where he’d helped to fight a fire a few days earlier. I went on to say how I remembered seeing the charred remains of a chicken standing up on the railing of the front porch of that burned out farmhouse. I had never before questioned it myself, but My kids wondered if that chicken truly just stood there and was burned alive, or if someone had put it up there as a joke. We decided to give my father full credit for a brilliant practical joke; one that had fooled me, up until last Saturday.

I figured out something else last Saturday. It is not all that important how well you grill a chicken. What is important is how well you enjoy eating the chicken.

Eat well, enjoy.

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