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Cooking Chickens on a fire

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi, so I don't know whether this is the best place, cause I want to cook chicken at camp. And I'm not really sure what's camping like in different countries, but basically our school camps is where the students just stay over at school. And then we sorta make fires in the field or something and cook stuff...and so me and my friends decided to bring a chicken or two to try to cook. Now I say cook cause I don't know whether to roast them or bake them or whatever...

 

A little bit about the conditions, there would be a small campfire, on which we can do our cooking, and there may be 1-3 chickens. There's no spit, just a fire...unless you suggest making one ourselves :) 

 

What I'm thinking of doing would be just covering them in butter, wrapping them up in aluminium foil and then burying it in the embers, or even just under the fire. I don't know if that's a good way of cooking it so I'd like to know:

 

  1. How big and what type of chickens would you recommend?
  2. Do I use whole chickens, or do I chop it up before hand?
  3. What can I put on them? Besides butter or some herbs, and maybe half a lemon or something...
  4. How do you suggest I cook them? Like I said, I would just wrap them and bury them, but is there a nicer way, or a better method?
  5. And also, how long would your suggested methods take to cook the chicken thoroughly? I'd rather not get food poisoning because of that, or worse, someone else getting food poisoning...

 

And that's all my questions, hope you take time to read and reply, or give your thoughts :)

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post #2 of 19

burying in embers would be fine as you described. The Chinese have a classic dish alleged to have originated in that manner, Beggar's Chicken. They wrapped it wet clay so it steams/roasts and then you crack it open at the end. Most recipes you find now are adapted for the oven of course, and usually replace the clay with a flour and salt dough. 

 

There are also reflector oven methods though I've never used one personally. 

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post #3 of 19
Where are you?

Do you have a cast iron (or other heavy) skillet? Or even a cast iron Dutch oven? With a skillet, you can sauté or pan-fry chicken pieces as you would in the home. See my article for one idea at http://roundthechuckbox.blogspot.com/2006/07/three-sided-chicken-use-your-next.html.

I wouldn't bury a chicken wrapped in aluminum foil. The foil would be too thin to prevent charring the bird. The clay idea would work. Roasting the chicken in the enclosed environment of a Dutch oven would give you a similar effect. It gives you a bit of roasting and steaming. With the proper amount of coals from the fire, you'll have nicely browned skin. The moist environment will help give you a moist bird.

You have no worries with food borne illness as long as you keep the bird under ice until it's time to cook it. Make sure you cook it until it reaches 165 degrees F.
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

phatch: Yup, I know about Beggar's Chicken, was thinking about that, but don't really think they'd wanna eat something that's been covered in mud. Although the flour and salt dough does sound interesting, how do you make the dough? And would you cover the chicken directly with the dough, or wrap it in something like foil first? 

 

Seabee: Well, I'm out in the open, it's just a field here, with the school building nearby, and I think the school's canteens would be closed by then. I don't have a cast iron skillet, unless a steal one from my workplace :P But I have a couple of mess tins. I also don't have a dutch oven or other things...Will remember about the bird and ice though :)

 

So as of right now I'll probably be buttering whole chickens, and then putting some herbs, and if I get the dough thing, I might smother it and bury it under the fire.

 

Hmm, what about slow roasting? Ever heard of that method in campfires? It sounds interesting...

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

Okay, I think I can manage a dough wrapped chicken, and I have all the steps until the cooking part...Do I just throw the whole chicken into the fire and let the dough harden? Or do I dig a hole near the fire and bury the chicken in there while covering it with the hot embers? And also how long do I bake it? 

post #6 of 19

I wouldn't be willing to experiment with a bunch of kids waiting for dinner. I would cut the chickens up beforehand. Bring enough rocks to make a fire ring and the metal rack from a grill. (An old metal rack from an oven or fridge works too.) Sit the grill on the rocks above the fire after it has burned down to coals and grill it. I've done this in my backyard, campgrounds and primitive camping in the mountains. Usually I keep a separate fire going in case you need to add coals. You don't want to add wood to your cooking fire and get flame-ups once your meat is on.

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

mtullius: Hey, that actually sounds like a good idea. And, I'm actually one of the kids (sorta), and it's gonna be around 12 am when we start cooking the chicken so it's more like supper :) I'll take that grill into consideration, thanks for the tip :D

post #8 of 19

Don't use a metal grill from  a fridge.  Avoid anything using chrome plating.  Cadmium poisoning is no joke.

 

Oven grills or old (or not-so-old) barbecue grills work fine.  They are usually solid stainless steel in one way, shape or form.

 

One additional tip: bring along a closable plastic bag like a 30-gallon trash bag (or two or three, if they are flimsy), to put the grill in after cooking.  Otherwise, you will get grease, soot and dirt mixed into everything that the grill comes into contact with.

 

Galley Swiller

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Galley: Hey, thanks, yea, figured that, I have an oven grill, a small one, though for now I'm still sticking with the Beggar's Chicken idea, cause it's much less fuss to do :P But I'll remember that the next time I go camping and stuff :D

post #10 of 19

We have used whole chickens to make beer butt chicken.  You can find these beer butt can holders at various places.  the chicken was so moist and tender and oh so good.

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fannie View Post
 

We have used whole chickens to make beer butt chicken.  You can find these beer butt can holders at various places.  the chicken was so moist and tender and oh so good.

Oh I figured how to quote this :D

Beer butt sounds delicious, I've seen it on TV, unfortunately me and my friends are well...underage, though it's still an option at home :P 

 

Anyway, I almost forgot about this thread, but me and a Scouts guy cooked the chicken, I tried making the dough wrapped chicken, but due to some poor execution (on my part), I forgot to bury it and it ended up on the logs above the fire. The dough started melting and burning and the insides couldn't cook properly...

 

So we took off all the dough and just cooked it in aluminium foil over some embers. Some parts were burnt of course but the chicken was really good. It was quite juicy, and not really like any roast chicken I've had before :) So that was more or less a success so thanks again for the replies :)

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Chua View Post
 

Oh I figured how to quote this :D

Beer butt sounds delicious, I've seen it on TV, unfortunately me and my friends are well...underage, though it's still an option at home :P 

 

Anyway, I almost forgot about this thread, but me and a Scouts guy cooked the chicken, I tried making the dough wrapped chicken, but due to some poor execution (on my part), I forgot to bury it and it ended up on the logs above the fire. The dough started melting and burning and the insides couldn't cook properly...

 

So we took off all the dough and just cooked it in aluminium foil over some embers. Some parts were burnt of course but the chicken was really good. It was quite juicy, and not really like any roast chicken I've had before :) So that was more or less a success so thanks again for the replies :)


I wonder if you could not try it with a can of Sprite or 7up?  Or even Rootbeer?

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fannie View Post
 


I wonder if you could not try it with a can of Sprite or 7up?  Or even Rootbeer?

Oh, I think it's possible, there's a few recipes for Coke butt chicken :)

 

Hmm, for outdoors cooking I think I'd have to improv so the chicken doesn't burn, and the can doesn't melt...But I'm not exactly sure whether it's safe to put a can above a hot hot fire, not sure if there's any chemicals and stuff.

 

I'll have to give it a try one day though :D 

post #14 of 19

Here's an article about roasting chicken that might be helpful. Here's what it says about using a beer can.

 

http://amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/debunking_beer_can_chicken.html

 

"Brewers do not test the plastic liners inside the can at cooking temperatures, and the ink on the outside of the can is not likely food grade. I asked the nice folks at Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser and other popular beers. They said "There are many recipes that cooks have been passing around for years that use beer to flavor chicken, and some of them suggest using an actual can of beer in the cooking process. While many people swear by these methods, and apparently they produce some delicious results, it's not one we endorse or recommend, since we don't design our cans for this purpose."

 

I hadn't even thought about that plastic lining in cans. Soda cans and most canned goods have them too. I've been trying to think of a good substitute. Aluminum water bottles have the plastic liner. The stainless steel ones usually have metallic paint on the outside. I've seen silver ones but maybe they are painted too.

 

Thanks to the Galley Swiller for the warning about the fridge grill. I didn't realize they were chrome plated.

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Oh I've read that article before.
If you're looking for a sub to those cans, there's a mention of Poultry Pal in the article: http://www.beercanchicken.com/

 

I don't really what the difference in taste will be between normally roasted chicken and beer can chicken, so for now until I actually get to have a taste of proper beer can chicken, I'm gonna say one the best roast chickens I've had was the one we cooked in this camp lol :P

post #16 of 19

2 1/2 pounder maximum weight, season and butter. Wrap twice in foil. To see if its done  2 ways  put meat thermometer in to 165 internal temp. Or stick with ice pick or meat thermometer if liquid that comes out is clear and not pink or red, then in most cases that signals that it is done.

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post #17 of 19

I would suggest sitting the chicken in a disposable foil dish, this will help you collect the juice ensuring the chicken doesn't dry out. 

 

Something along these lines would be ideal http://www.rrpackaging.co.uk/products/foil-food-containers-lids

 

 

You can also make gravy or sauce with the chicken juices, as well as ensuring it is cooked correctly with minimal fuss and clean up. 

 

Hope this helps. 

post #18 of 19

I use Sm02's method on my gas grill; no reason it wouldn't work on a campfire. I oil the pan. The chicken gets a good sprinkle with lemon juice inside and out, then gets well-seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and other dried herbs. Sometimes I'm in a hurry so I just use Penzeys Mural of Flavor no-salt herb mix. I put the seasoned chicken, untrussed, in the foil pan and put it on the grid over indirect heat, then cover. If you're on an open campfire you could just encase the whole pan in foil, I'd think. I let a 4 pounder go about 75 minutes, then let it rest covered at least 10 minutes. You'll get tons of great juices and a succulent bird. This works great with turkey parts, too. I sometimes make a bird like this to use for chicken pot pie, etc. It's too easy NOT to do.

 

I've degreased the juices and used them to make lunch the next day with some of the leftover chicken. I like to add lemon juice and a little water to the pan juices, a little cooked pasta and maybe some artichoke hearts to make a sort of chicken in brodo. Yum. Or I freeze the pan juices and when I have enough I can make individual pot pies for my mother-in-law.

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post #19 of 19

We cook fresh yardbirds out at the ranch with the kids. Truss up the bids, use some stainless wire and hang them from tripods and let the small kids spin them slowly with a stick. An adult has to spray an infused oil every once in a while. This method takes time so have a couple of bags of marshmallows on hand.

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