Good grilled chicken should have crisp, crackly, blistered skin all over its entire surface, with no soft spots or pockets of rubbery fat.
Whole Grilled Barbecue Chicken
For the chicken
- 1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) large whole chicken
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 cups Jack’s Old South Huney Muney Cluck Rub or make your own chicken rub (recipe below)
For the chicken rub (makes about 3 cups)
- 1 cup chili powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons onion powder
- 3 tablespoons garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Make the rub
- In a large bowl, combine all the rub ingredients. Stir to combine thoroughly. You can store this rub in an airtight container indefinitely, but it’ll begin to lose strength after about 3 months—and if I had any left after 6 months, I’d make a new batch.
Make the chicken
- To butterfly the chicken: Get a sharp paring knife and a pair of kitchen shears. Place the chicken on a cutting board breast side down. Working from the cavity opening up to the neck, cut along each side of the backbone with the kitchen shears. Discard the backbone or reserve it for stock. Grab the chicken with one breast in each hand and open it like a book, exposing the cavity of the bird—you’ll hear a crack, most likely. Running from the middle of the bird down between the two legs is the so-called “soft bone” or “keel bone”—this is the breastbone. It’s a triangular shape that is firm toward the middle of the bird but becomes soft flexible cartilage as it tapers down between the legs. To remove it, use a paring knife to cut down either side of it. Once you’ve cut it free, use your fingers to loosen and then pull out the breastbone. Discard the bone, and your chicken is good to go. Rub the chicken all over with the vinegar, then season it on both sides with salt and pepper. Generously smear the rub under and over the skin and on the interior of the bird. Place in a baking pan, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least three hours or preferably overnight.
- When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat half the grill to medium-high (or build a medium-high-heat fire on one side of a charcoal grill); leave the other half unheated. Place the chicken skin side down over the heated side and grill until the skin begins to color and char marks form, about 5 minutes. Flip over and grill 5 minutes more. Move the chicken to the unheated side. Close the lid and cook, making sure the chicken is flat against the grate, skin side up, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone registers 180°F, approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving.