Pit Barrel Greek Chicken
April 19, 2013
At first glance, users might think the Pit Barrel Cooker is another Ugly Drum Smoker (“UDS”). But in reality it is a vertical grill, allowing the user to hang the meat directly over the flame like an old-school grill-out over a wood fueled campfire. Simply fill the bottom fire ring with Kingsford charcoal (Pit Barrel’s recommended fuel source), light it up, and let the heat and upward airflow do the rest as your meat hangs safely just below the barrel’s lid.
Don’t own a Pit Barrel Cooker? Simply remove the backbone from your whole chicken and lay it out flat, rib side down, over direct heat on your kettle grill and cook according to the instructions below!
One 2lb chicken
For the chicken marinade:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. chopped rosemary
½ tbsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
Mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper. Place chicken in a zip top bag and cover completely with marinade. Refrigerate overnight.
For a bit more on how the Pit Barrel Cooker works, we turned to Dr. Greg Blonder for the following scientific-like analysis:
“There are a couple of reasons. These vertical cookers are almost always much hotter near the bottom than the top. Sure, heat rises, but the fire is on the bottom and it heats up the steel, which conducts heat up along the side. Plus air vents are at the top side edge, reducing heat accumulation under the lid. The Pit Barrel is a 30 gallon drum, vs a 55 UDS, and that really drives thermal conduction higher towards the bottom in a small drum, and closer to the fire. So, for the sake of kitchen science and sleeping well at night, you should definitely measure the temp at 3 or 4 locations vertically in both drums- with meat in place. Do you have an accurate corded digital thermometer? If so, attach the end to a wire (coat hanger) and adjust to sit at different heights.
“The meat distribution relative to the vents matters. If you place the meat horizontally on a grate, rather than hang, it acts as insulation between the fire and the lid- so the air actually becomes cooler in the gap under the lid. And more humid. Remember, its 90F outside air on one side of the lid, and 140F meat temp on the other side of the lid. At least if the meat blocks the lid from the fire. Hung vertically, heat flows around the meat to the vents, so the meat is encased in a bubble of hot air. Less cool dead air at the top of the drum.
“Finally, juices drip off vertical meat faster than horizontal on a grill, where they pool on the bottom of the meat and on the grate. This extra liquid on flat horizontal meat enhances evaporative cooling, and thus slows cooking.”
Preheat Pit Barrel Cooker to high. Remove chicken from marinade and place in Pit Barrel Cooker. Cook for approximately 2 hours until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove chicken from the grill, quarter and serve.
– Clint Cantwell, Grilling.com Editor