Inter Foods : Ep1


INTERNATIONAL FOODS : SMOKED SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN WITH IQUE BBQ SAUCE

by Thomas M. Tillman
Take your barbecue game to the next level with this incredible Smoked Spatchcock Chicken. Soaked in an award-winning brine, and then smoked to perfection, this succulent chicken is a BBQ dream! Serve it with out-of-this-world homemade IQUE BBQ sauce for the perfect finish.
Closeup of smoked bbq chicken on a green plate with slaw and grilled corn.
I truly am a lover of all things barbecue. Andy Husbands and Chris Hart of Wicked Good Barbecue in Woburn, MA have done a great job explaining everything you'd want to know about barbecue in their cookbook of the same name. They have included great tips on barbecuing and smoking along with many of their award-winning recipes, including this one. Let's take a moment to define what a spatchcock chicken is. Basically it's a butterflied chicken. You remove the backbone of the bird, and flatten it for faster cooking. You may use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to accomplish this. Spatchcocked chicken can be prepared many ways but this recipe for smoked spatchcock chicken is pure BBQ. Even though it takes a lot of advance preparation, it's actually a very easy dish with minimal effort (just a lot of waiting). It also only takes about an hour to cook, so it cooks faster than many other BBQ recipes which smoke overnight or all day. If you are new to the BBQ game, this is a great recipe to get you started!
Closeup of smoked bbq chicken with bbq sauce drizzled on one portion.

HOW TO MAKE IT

The first step is to brine the chicken in a "top-secret" brine consisting of 25 ingredients including everything from soy sauce to Dijon mustard, blackstrap molasses to roasted garlic. It's a little daunting when you look at the ingredient list, but it's super easy to make. Simply bring the ingredients to a boil, cool to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.
A pot of brine filled with pieces of apple, orange, and lemon.
Next, spatchcock your chickens. Using kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone and remove the back. Flip the bird breast-side up and press down until the breast bone cracks.
A raw spatchcocked chicken on a white cutting board.
Brine your spatchcocked chickens for 12 to 24 hours. Then let them dry out in the fridge overnight before you cook the birds. Set up your smoker.
A chimney starter on a charcoal grill with smoke coming out of it.
Rub the chickens with a little oil and sprinkle chili powder over the top.
Two spatchcock chickens seasoned with chili powder on a metal baking sheet.
Then place them skin-side down in your smoker and smoke for 1 hour, or until a thermometer registers 160°F in the breast and 170°F in the thigh. Remove from the cooker and let rest for 20 minutes, skin-side up.
Closeup of a smoked spatchcock chicken on a white platter.
Although the smoked spatchcock chicken can easily be served plain, you can also serve them with BBQ sauce if desired. The homemade IQUE BBQ Sauce is definitely worth a try. It also has a laundry list of ingredients but is super easy nonetheless. It's tomato and vinegar-based, giving the sauce a nice sweetness and tang with a spicy finish. The variety of spices includes Worcestershire sauce, dried thyme, dried mustard, ground cumin, and more. The recipe yields a lot, but keeps for a long time. If you plan on barbecuing regularly, your sauce won't go to waste.
Homemade bbq sauce in a small white bowl with a white spoon lifting some out.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The effort is 100% worth it because it yields the juiciest, most flavorful chicken ever. Even the breast meat, which can easily overcook, literally melts in you mouth. It's truly out of this world! We actually scaled down the recipe and made only 2 chickens instead of 3, but maintained the same amount of brine (it was just easier than cutting the recipe). The chickens were slightly larger by a pound, so ours took a bit longer to cook through. Either way, they're worth the wait!
Smoked bbq chicken on a green plate with a side of slaw and grilled corn.
 

Equipment

  • 5-gallon food-grade bucket

Ingredients

Top-Secret Blue Ribbon Brine:

  • ¾ gallon spring water
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¾ cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 apple cored and cut into quarters (do not peel)
  • 1 orange cut into quarters
  • 1 lemon cut into quarters
  • 1 onion peeled and cut into quarters
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
  • 2 heads roasted garlic split in half, skin on
  • 2 chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons dried sage
  • 4 pieces candied ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

Chicken:

  • 3 whole, young birds, about 3 pounds each (preferably hormone and antibiotic-free, with no added water or other solutions)
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • ½ cup mild chili powder

IQUE BBQ Sauce:

  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tablespoon dried thyme
  • ½ tablespoon ground mustard
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns freshly ground*
  • ¾ teaspoon long peppercorns freshly ground*
  • ¾ teaspoon chipotle powder or cayenne pepper
  • ½ tablespoon tomato powder** (optional)
  • ¾ teaspoon hickory powder** (optional) (we used liquid smoke, instead)
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon IQUE Dry Rub (recipe follows)

Instructions

  • To make the brine: Bring the water, broth, salt, soy sauce, brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, salad dressing, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, vinegar, apple, orange, lemon, onion, garlic (fresh and roasted), and chipotles to a boil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add the bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, sage, ginger, cinnamon, and chili powder. Using a whisk, mix ingredients well. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Pour into bucket and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight. (We actually made an ice bath in the kitchen sink and cooled it that way to speed up the process and get our birds brined).
  • Spatchcock the chickens. For each one, using kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone and remove the back. Flip the bird breast-side up and press down until the breast bone cracks.
  • Place the spatchcocked birds in a food-safe buckets and pour brine over so the birds are fully submerged (use plates as a weight, if necessary). Place the bucket in refrigerator and brine for 12 to 24 hours (we placed our bucket in a giant cooler filled with ice).
  • Remove the birds from the brine and place skin-side up on a cooling rack set over a sheet pan. Dry with paper towels and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight. The exposure to the air will dry out the birds, making for crispy skin when they cook.
  • Prepare smoker (we used apple wood chips) and bring heat to 350°F. If using a kettle grill, build a two-zone fire, and use foil or a drip pan to keep chicken juices from dripping directly into the fire.
  • Rub peanut oil over the birds, then sprinkle with chili powder. There is salt in the brine, so don’t use a traditional rub that has more salt in it.
  • Place chickens skin-side down on clean grill grates. This will help keep them moist. The skin creates a barrier, so the juices accumulate in the meat instead of dripping down into the fire. If you are using a kettle grill, place them on the cool side of the grate.
  • Cook for 1 hour, or until a thermometer registers 160°F in the breast and 170°F in the thigh. Remove from the cooker and let rest for 20 minutes, skin-side up.
  • Meanwhile make the IQUE BBQ Sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, make a gastrique by bringing the brown sugar, cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce to a gentle boil.
  • Remove from the heat and add the thyme, mustard, garlic powder, cumin, ground Szechuan peppercorns, ground long peppercorns, chipotle powder, and tomato powder and hickory powder, if using. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the ketchup and corn syrup, return to stove, and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add IQUE Dry Rub. Let cool and store in refrigerator, preferably in squeeze bottles, for up to 1 month. Makes 1 quart sauce.
  • To serve, baste the chicken with warm IQUE BBQ Sauce–or simply serve as-is, which is our preferred way to eat it.