The summer cooking season is in full swing now and BBQ is king. Check out this spectacular barbecue dish called Loaf-Pan Chicken.
Loaf pan chicken comes from the legendary pit master, Chris Lilly, whose restaurant Big Bob Gibson’s in Monroe, North Carolina, is a hallmark of BBQ goodness. I came across the recipe in Lilly’s book, Big Bog Gibson’s BBQ Book. Here’s how it’s made: A whole chicken is put into a standard loaf pan, covered with apple sauce and a spice rub and then barbecued slowly over indirect heat. Add some smoking woods like hickory and apple wood and it’s even better.
The chicken emerges extremely moist as it smokes slowly to release all those juices that develop in the pan. It’s very easy to put together. Use a 5- by 9-inch loaf pan; the pan might get somewhat charred in the process but I’ve found that it cleans up well with a steel wool pad. I served this recently with fresh-dug baby carrots cut on the diagonal with asparagus cut similarly, put into a foil pack with butter, lemon, salt and pepper. Wrap tightly and put directly on the grill over direct heat. It will take about 15 minutes until both vegetables are al dente, depending on the heat of the fire.
3/4 to 1 cup applesauce
3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds
1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
2 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin powder
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
Build a fire with a combination of charcoal briquettes, hardwood and smoking wood chunks; soak these (hickory, apple wood, oak, maple or a combination) for 30 minutes in warm water before using. Add to the coals once they have turned ash white and glowing. Keep the coals to one side of the grill because you will barbecue the chicken away from the coals (indirect heat).
Meanwhile clean out the chicken, dry and put in the loaf pan. Mix together the applesauce (preferably local) and Worcestershire. Prepare the dry rub by mixing all the ingredients together.
Holding the chicken over the loaf pan, cover it all over with the applesauce mixture, rubbing it on the breast, legs, thighs and wings. Cover with dry rub with some inside the cavity and the rest rubbed all over the chicken. Set in the loaf pan and place on the grill. Cover the grill, leaving the top vents open. Barbecue for about 1 1/2 hours, turning the loaf pan occasionally. If the juices in the pan are not bubbling after about 1 hour put the pan directly over the coals for about 5 minutes. The temperature of the grill will start off at about 400 degrees but should settle down to 300 to 350 degrees for the duration of the cooking time. Chicken is done when breast meat registers 155- 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
Let rest for 5 minutes then carve and spoon some of the pan juices over the chicken.
Local ingredients used
Chicken and potatoes, Goranson Farm
Applesauce, Ricker Hill Orchards
All spices, Gryffon Ridge
Carrots, Winslow Farm
Asparagus, Alewive’s Brook Farm