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Seeking advice on how to cook rotisserie chicken (charcoal, weber)

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I have a charcoal weber kettle with a rotisserie attachment, and I want to cook whole chicken.

I have some ideas about how to marinade, and I have some experience with this, but I haven't been able to find answers to two questions.

1. Can I (should I) cook the chicken with the top off? I've cooked it with the top on (charcoal banked on the sides, and a drip pan under the chicken), and it's okay, but I notice the peruvian chicken places all cook over an open fire. I'd like to try cooking the chicken without the top on, and seek advice from anyone who has done this. (Reminder: charcoal, not gas) Is this just a bad idea. and if not, How long will it take per pound? and I do plan on adding charcoal throughout the process.

2. If I can fit two chickens on my rotisserie rod can I cook them simultaneously? Will that add to cooking time?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. I personally recommend not cooking chicken uncovered over an open fire. Since you're using charcoal I'm sure you know that the prime cooking occurs after the flames are gone. Plus you run the risk of over cooking the outside of the bird while the inside is undercooked. In addition, once that chicken starts really cooking, the fat will start dripping off and we all know what happens when that stuff hits open flame or even just hot coals.
    I'm inclined to think that an uncovered chicken will take longer to cook because a lot of heat will escape. I don't think two birds should take longer than one simply because you can cook multiple steaks/chops/burgers and they don't need extra time.
    I think the covered, indirect method of grilling chicken works the best for whole birds.

    1. Weber would recommend cover ON to take advantage of the convection inside the kettle, but there's no reason you couldn't bank the coals on either side of the spit with a relatively narrow band of no coals directly under the bird(s) and keep the lid off. Most of the drips will be right down the middle. I would think two birds would probably cook in the same time as one this way.

      1. The blog www.dadcooksdinner.com has a rotisserie section with recipes for both gas and charcoal grills. Several rotisserie chicken recipes.

        1. Definitely cover on!

          I prefer to cook my chicken using a weber vertical roaster (kind of like beer can style) over indirect medium heat (350 degrees). One chicken takes 50 mins to 1.25 hours or thereabouts.

          1. Thanks to all for the input. For others who venture here, the dadscookdinner.com site is a good step by step on rotisserie chicken, and it does specify top on.

            1 Reply
            1. re: howardl

              Thanks for the link. I made the chicken legs on the rotisserie tonight on a whim and they came out awesome! I wouldn't have thought to do them that way.

            2. <<<<<<" but I notice the peruvian chicken places all cook over an open fire. I'd like to try cooking the chicken without the top on, and seek advice from anyone who has done this.">>>>>>

              I'd probably think that the Peruvian restaurant is cooking over either a wood burning pit or using hardwood charcoal , and if so, is likely to have the meat closer to the heat source for some of the cooking rather than the Weber, will allow only a limited cook hgt. and adjustment range using the std set-up.

              Try a bird using the brine and then rub method and make sure the outside of the bird is dry to ensure a crispy skin. I personally would do indirect with the lid on, but for teh price of whole chickens, it's worth experimenting using several different methods.

              Direct means faster cooking and flare ups, but no lid means you can address them with a squirt bottle.

              Good luck.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jjjrfoodie

                jjjrfoodie is exactly right. Those restaurants have a wood fire and a large circular hoop that 10 or so bars, and multiple chickens on each bar, and as the hoop rotates, the chickens are brought very close to the wood fire, and then carried away to the top. And his (her?) comment confirms my original doubt about whether I could recreate that cooking method on a Weber. I can't bring the chicken as close to the fire and (probably) an open air weber does't recreate the "heat box" effect of the restaurants. Ricepad's suggestion above is probably what I would have tried -- lot and lots of charcoal to move the fire as close as possible to the chicken. But this discussion has really helped me clarify my thinking, and I think I'll go back to the top on. No experimentation for the time being: I've got to get food on the table for the week.