This grilling technique will get some smoke on a whole chicken and cook it way faster than a smoker. The custom poultry rub adds big, bold barbecue flavor to the bird.
Technical tip: The bigger the grill the better — as it will give you the opportunity to keep the ribs as far away from the fire as possible.
For the chicken rub:
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
For the chicken:
Light your charcoal according to the directions on the bag, then fill it into the charcoal basket, making sure it is pushed all the way to one side of the grill. Once the charcoal is gray and ashed over, add 2 chunks of oak and 1 chunk of pecan. Let the wood burn off for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, season your chicken. Dry it with paper towels, then spread a thin, even layer of mustard all over the chicken, rubbing it in well and making sure there are no clumps. Season the chicken all over with an even sprinkle of black pepper. Follow it with an even layer of Chicken Rub, making sure to get the pepper and rub in all the crevices on the sides of the breast and the legs. You can tuck the wings back if you want to — that’s up to you.
Once the chicken is seasoned, place it on the grill, as far away from the charcoal as possible. Cover the grill, leaving the vent in the lid above the ribs open.
Check the chicken, charcoal and wood every 30 minutes or so, adding more wood chunks every time they have burned out. On the second load, you can add a chunk of applewood along with the other wood. You should also add more charcoal as needed.
Once the rub is set and the crust looks solid — after about an hour or so — you can start spraying the chicken with apple juice every time you open the grill to check the meat and the fire.
If the color on your chicken is getting too dark, open the vent over the charcoal side of the grill. If the color keeps getting darker and the chicken hasn’t finished cooking, you can wrap it with butcher paper or aluminum foil and put it back on the grill.
If you think the chicken is done, you can check it with a thermometer if you want (150 F in the breast and 165 F in the thigh). But I’m looking for that leg and thigh to be loose — almost to where it bends easily but is still plump.
Once you can move it, you know it’s done. Spray the chicken with apple juice just before it comes off the grill, then let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
Reprinted with permission from “Bludso’s BBQ Cookbook: A Family Affair in Smoke and Soul.” Copyright © 2022 by Kevin Bludso. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.