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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Charcoal Grilled Jerk Seasoned Chicken

I am currently tweaking the final two Ranch recipes I will be submitting for the Hidden Valley Ranch™Recipe Challenge.  When I received my box of five delectable Hidden Valley Ranch™chicken immediately popped into my mind and I already had a idea in mind.  The recipe would used chicken but not any chicken.  My creation would use charcoal grilled jerk seasoned  chicken to give a unique flavour that would go nicely with the Ranch.  Before I post that recipe to be submitted for judging, I wanted to share with you exactly how I make the chicken.

starting the charcoal briquettes
When I took these pictures for the first run of the recipe we were using charcoal briquettes.  We ignite them using an electric starter rather than use lighter fluid.  Briquettes are wonderful and used properly you can get some amazing results.  They add a smokey note that you can't get using propane or natural gas grills.  We have since switched to using old fashioned lump charcoal in favour of briquettes.  Briquettes burn hotter than lump charcoal and they are cheaper but they produce a lot of ash.  Lump charcoal is all natural.  It lights quickly, burns hotter with little ash production but it burns faster and is more expensive.  Still, we are finding we are getting better results using lump charcoal in terms of flavour and performance.  Whether you use charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal, the method for grilling the chicken is the same.

whole chicken
The Hidden Valley Ranch™ Recipe Challenge specified using fresh ingredients with a strong emphasis on fresh vegetables and kid friendly.  I picked up two fresh whole chickens to start creating.  The reason being, I knew I would have to recreate my recipe a few times to get it the way I wanted.

Pictured is one of the fresh chickens.  I removed the fatty portions around the cavity opening as they would cause flare-ups on the grill.  They went into the freezer bag of chicken parts for stock making.    Once the chicken was clean-up, I cut in in half, butterfly style.

cut and jerk seasoned chicken
For this purpose, it didn't matter whether I cut along the rib cage (butterfly) or breastI cut from end to end along the breast line.  The cut really didn't matter as all the meat would be cut from the bones. Leaving the chicken somewhat whole gives a juicier result than cutting it into individual pieces.  Leaving as many bones in the chicken gives nice stock bones.

I used Cool® Runnings Jerk Seasoning to lightly season both sides of the chicken.  I reasoned the seasoning would compliment the smokiness of the charcoal without over powering it.

chicken just on the grill
I put the chicken on the grill when the briquettes were covered with white ash.  The heat can be adjusted by lowering or raising the coal bed or the chicken can be moved to the upper shelf to cook slower.

When cooking on charcoal, it is important to avoid flare-ups much the same as any other types of grilling.  Flare-ups cause heavy charred or burned parts on the food.  The standard trick of using water or beer to douse the flames doesn't work with charcoal as that causes ash to rise and stick to your food.  Keep a close eye on the food and move it to another part of the grill when flare-ups occur.  Be sure to adjust the coal tray level to reduce flare-ups and add fresh coal if necessary especially if you are doing a slow cook.

chicken almost cooked
The chicken is cooked when the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink.  Note the smoke surrounding the almost cooked chicken?  This adds an amazing flavour that permeates the meat without overpowering.  It is mouthwatering!  This is my current favourite way of cooking chicken on the grill.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the grill and allow to rest 10 minutes before deboning.  The meat will fall from the bone rather nicely.  Cut larger pieces into strips or you can cube if desired.  Make sure you leave bits of the skin on as it really does add flavour.  Most of the fat has dripped off anyway.  Cool the chicken pieces.  Reserve bones for stock.  When the chicken pieces are cooled they are ready to be used in sandwiches, salads or you can freeze for a taste of summer during the winter months.

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