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BBQ chicken do-ahead

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I've been 'volunteered' to do food for our regional dog club event in October.:crazy: Wanting to keep it low cost (we'll be asking for a $5/plate donation, in addition to any sides folks want to donate), easy to finish on-site, easy to travel with (have to travel 400 miles, then overnight it for the next day), and not terribly time-consuming, as I'd like to participate in the day's activities, too, and not get stuck in my cabin cooking! We're expecting between 50-60 people.

For sides, I'm probably going to do a slaw and a succotash salad (I can prep both at home, and just add dressing on site), and a huge pan of either cornbread or bacon/onion/beer bread. For the meat, I was thinking of doing chicken parts with Penzey's Barbeque of the America's seasoning, just 'cause it's easy and I love it! I had originally thought maybe I'd cook the chicken in the oven at home, freeze it, then thaw on the road and in the fridge, and just crisp up in the oven again. Tried a sample batch, and of course my thoughts were right, and it was kinda dry. So now my thoughts are, take the pkgs of chicken to the site still frozen, thaw overnight in fridge, and just marinate and cook off early in the morning, before the events get going. Then maybe heat up either in the oven or on grills (I think the site only has those little grid-charcoal grills like state parks have).

I'm open to any and all suggestions! I've done the cooking for these events in the past, but ended up getting stuck in the kitchen for half the day, and missing a lot of the fun - don't want to do that anymore! The money we'll make after food costs will be a moneymaker for our local chapter, which is a good thing! :)
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post #2 of 11
I would take the Chicken frozen and thaw over night. Bake it covered with some water and alum foil so it steam cooks slow untill done. Cool in the refer and finish off on the BBQ with your favorite sauce. You could also reheat in a high 500 degrees oven to cook the BBQ sauce on the chix................Remember you are doing this to meet your needs and not necessarily the best way to get the best product. ...Good Luck...Bill
post #3 of 11
You're overcomplicating the process with unnecessary freezing.

Grill or smoke your chicken in the regular way -- but without any sauce; package it appropriately and refrigerate until the event. Allow the chicken to come to temp, about 30 - 45 minutes for pieces, before briefly grilling to refresh it.

If you do like to brush sauce on your chicken during grilling -- save that for when you grill at the event.

It's a matter of taste and of technique, but I strongly suggest you not "bake [chicken pieces] ... covered with ... water" in the pan. Unless you want an unnatural hybrid of steamed, poached and baked(?!) chicken with soggy bottoms and gummy skin, it's a rotten trick to play on an innocent bird.

Speaking of strong suggestions -- brining is almost always a good idea with poultry. It's an especially good idea when you're going to stress it, as by cooking it twice.

Whether or not you're usually a fan of cooking barbecue sauce into the chicken by saucing while it's still on the grill, "carmelizing the sauce," even getting a little scorch -- your double cook is a good time to try it.

Patience is very difficult doing this sort of cooking -- especially at an unfamiliar site. Given the nature of things, you're probably stuck with using lighter fluid to light your fires. Try and avoid "self lighting" charcoal. Try and allow enough time for the fire to fully mature and fluid to burn off as much as possible. If it's in your budget, good charcoal -- hardwood lump, not briquette -- makes a large, postive difference.

Chicken should almost always be cooked over a moderate (as opposed to hot) fire. Reheating as you are, allows more leeway. Anything from a four to an eight count fire (hold your palm flat an inch over the grate and count, "one Mississippi, two Mississippi ... ) is fine.

Try and allow at leat ten minutes after (the final) grilling for the chicken to rest but cool down slightly. Twenty is better. Chicken carries the most taste in the cool to warm range -- that is, neither very hot nor very cold. In fact, "hot off the grill" is best for hamburgers and hotdogs and very little else.

An alternative preparation, even more convenient on site, would be to make kababs using skinless, boneless thigh meat (you could use breast, but thigh is more robust and easier). They could be skewered, placed a marinade, a rub, tikka paste, whatever, bagged and frozen at home, and defrosted morning of. Because of their size they will defrost and cook evenly. Rather than marinating, I'd brine for about half an hour; then just before cooking brush with good olive oil. Then, sprinkle with crumbled, dried herbs as cooking neared its end; and finally, splash with lemon juice as they came off the grill. Oh mama!

BDL
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post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Duh - completely forgot about brining! I think I could brine/cook it the day before I leave, keep it very chilled (we're talking cook Thursday, drive Friday, dinner on Saturday), then just crisp it up on the grills at the event!

I'm pretty comfy cooking with charcoal, and some of the guys are grillmeisters, so I'm sure they'll lend a hand!

Saucing on the grill I'm very aware of, and will absolutely not do! :) The Penzey's rub is just so awesome, I'll just do that, and have some bottles of sauce at the table for those who have to have it. This is the sauce description:

" Barbecue of the Americas
A New World Rub. This blend combines our knowledge of outdoor seasoning and cooking from the buccaneers to the great colonial cooks to the backyard chefs of today. This is a great seasoning, whether you are grilling a whole roast beef or a slab of ribs. Mix in tomato sauce, 1-2 TB. per cup, or rub on dry, 1-2 tsp. per pound. Hand mixed from: Coarse Kosher Flake Salt, Paprika, Jamaican Allspice, Cayenne Red Pepper, Nutmeg, Black Pepper, Thyme, Ginger, White Pepper, Korintje Cinnamon."
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post #5 of 11
The only comment I have to this is.......... whether you're a Chef or a home cook....it's always about the food....... are you sure about this??????? To me it's all about the best product you are able to produce. I assume that marmalady would like to stay in business.............:rolleyes: If you're going to do this based on your needs, you might as well run down to the local KFC and order 300pcs of their grilled chicken, throw it in insert pans and let the folks have at it. With that said, I intend no disrespect to any poster here but..... to suggest different......... is an insult to the idea behind being a foodie and a Chef, retired or not.

Now for a suggestion, do as BDL suggested and grill it off the day prior. Whether you marinate, brine, smoke, rub, make kebabs or skwere tenders and do a fom of Satay, what ever you decided just make it fresh, don't freeze and follow protocol for safe food. To me, the simple lightly marinated and then grilled over coals with some getting sauced and maybe some not sounds about as simple a project as needed for positive results.
I've done a ton of these things for the summer time we usually super chill our transport cambros/coolers in the freezer. The chicken typically cooked the day before on the grill, indoors or out, depending on where I was and the facilities, cooled after cooking over night, and then placed in the cambros/coolers for transport. On site we leave the unopened cambros in the shade and depending how hot it was going to be and what size the event was, I've rented or borrowed a truck from my produce or meat purveyors. They had small vans for local quick deliveries. Had my grills set up, usually 2, one for bringing to temp and the other for saucing if that was the case, then into inserts and on to the chafer's. Out of probably 4 dozen of these events I've done, I've never had a complaint, especially about the food nor an issue with an on site health inspector.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the thoughts, oldschool. Yes, I'm a retired professional caterer, having done everything from white tablecloth dinners and weddings, to pig roasts. This 'job' is not for business purposes, but for the joy of feeding my fellow dog club friends (most of whom would eat sawdust and enjoy it, lol). I do understand the primary objective being putting out the best that you can, and was trying to come to some sort of compromise, since this will be an event that I am participating in also, not just cooking for; my aim was to try and put out a decent tasting item without me spending half the day of the event in the kitchen. Also, keep in mind that I have a 2-day lag time between cooking and serving. Food cooked/chilled on Thursday, travel on Friday, served late Saturday afternoon. I realize it won't be perfect; I'm just trying to find a way to safely deliver a nice product.
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post #7 of 11
that rub sounds like a jerk seasoning minus the green onions, and hot pepper! jerk is what i was going to suggest!



should be awesome!


a little citrus and/or pineapple is also nice to incorporate somehow.

speaking of buccaneers, in trinidad there is a cooking style known as buccaneer that is done by the creole Trinidadians to the north of arima. creoles in trinidad are usually european (spanish or english or french decent) and can also be mixed with the native american indians that lived in the island before colonization.

anyway they are ancient grill masters and usually marinate a chicken for 24-48 hrs in a mix of parsley, chive, garlic, thyme and cilantro (sometimes shallots, sometimes a little oregano...)

then simple black pepper and salt

the magic happens with the barbequing smoking process and the local fruit woods used.

i think cherry or apple would be good choice... (im not sure if apple is ok for smoking or not, i think thats what i have heard though)

and of course the jamaican jerk is an aravak and carib method of barbequing, its essentials being allspice, and hot pepper

but now days garlic, green onions, ginger and thyme often make their way in as well as the lime, lemon or orange juice. in america raspeberry has become an interesting jerk addition and its worth trying.... pineapple can be nice too....

jerk should be jerked with allspice wood if possible.
post #8 of 11
At the risk of having people tell me I'm nuts, whenever I have to do a lot of chicken on the grill, I actually boil it first. 15-20 minutes at a visible boil (somewhat higher than a simmer) is usually sufficient to cook the meat through without drying it out. Obviously doesn't work so well if the recipe calls for a marinade, but for a recipe that uses a rub and/or basted barbecue sauce, it's just the thing. In this case, you could boil the day before, place on a rack and allow to dry for an hour, add your seasoning or rub, cover and refrigerate. On the day of the event, let the meat come to room temperature before placing on the grill and basting as usual. Good luck!
post #9 of 11
Read her post, she is trying to cook ahead and reheat when needed. This isn't my idea. If you want the best quality then cook from start to finish and then serve. What I'm saying is she is cooking the meal to meet her needs in not staying in the kitchen all day. In my world anything that is cooked ahead isn't as good as cooked and served right after cooking. Why don't you tell everyone how its done. Is there anyway in your Know it all life that a BBQ chicken would be better cooked ahead, rather than cooked and served right off the grill. Cooking ahead is meeting her needs, not the best way of getting the best results.............The way you cooked your chicken for your events is the sameway, it meet your needs. I bet you wouldn't win and BBQ cook offs that way, would you??????????? and tell me why doesn't everyone cook everything ahead at the BBQ cook offs?????????? ......Bill
post #10 of 11
You're correct, I wouldn't have won an event the way I mentioned and I guess if I pondered things, I was cooking to meet the needs but they weren't mine or at the least I did not impose them on myself. I see your point but I still have to disagree about settling..... although it's something we all do in the end. Like I mentioned we had on-site health officials but also event co-ordinators to deal with. Many of the events/parties/shows were handled with a zero tolerance for salmonella contamination. They found the easiest way was to limit the chicken to being cooked prior to being brought on site and then reheated and served. I argued 'till I was blue in the face to keep this from happening but, unfortunately, I wasn't in charge that day.

The way I mentioned was also a fall back method and not something we did on the norm. I apologize for making it sound like this was a normally performed procedure. I did, however, provide the best product for the situation at hand. I guess what threw me was the methods you suggested and the tone I perceived in the statement. I still stand by my post but apologize for misunderstanding some things.

In any case, if you have plenty of ice, drain the product and handle it in the proper fashion we were all trained to use for these things........ either raw or precooked chicken can be used even if it were a 4 day event.
post #11 of 11
Hmmmm....sounds like the chicken could be awkward.

Does it have to be chicken pieces?

What about nice hot chilli with dogs?
Chilli improves over a couple of days - you could have the dogs frozen then thaw to cook up at the site.

Just a thought :)
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