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Unread 09-23-2011, 07:39 AM   #1
Dave Russell
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Default Big Bob Gibson's chicken temp/time?

Anyone have any idea why the Big Bob Gibson white sauce chicken recipe calls for 3 hours at 325*?

You could say it's simply a misprint in Chris Lilly's "Big Bob Gibson's BBQ book". However, he specifically states to cook the butterflied birds bone down for about 1.5 hrs and then turn to cook about that much more or until the thigh is 180*. FYI, the turning part isn't mentioned in Mike Mill's book, but the temp/time is basically the same. The recipes don't mention the size of the birds, but the restaurant serves half fryers as you'd expect.

Smoking (4) 3lb. split fryers on my 18.5" wsm this afternoon, with only one gal. water in the pan, and temps should be in the 250-275* range for the cook. I'm guessing 2.25-2.5 hr, but what do ya'll think? I need to get better at writing this stuff down after a cook.

Any input would be greatly appreciated, and later I'll post my white sauce recipe if anyone wants it. I always tweak it a bit after tasting, but I can write it out pretty close.
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Unread 09-23-2011, 07:57 AM   #2
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The difference you see with Lilly & Mills has to do with the cooking methods each use. Mills cooks with indirect heat in pits such as those from Ole Hickory. Lilly flips his chickens because at Big Bob Gibson's they cook directly over coals. The radiant heat means meat will burn if left on one side for too long. That's why folks in North Carolina flip their whole hogs as well.

Unfortunately, most people miss out on the flavor gained from true direct heat bbq because they only know (and some have only heard of) cooking in the offset manner. Direct heat with a diffuser or water pan does not count either. It's not the same.
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Unread 09-23-2011, 08:55 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cook View Post
...Lilly flips his chickens because at Big Bob Gibson's they cook directly over coals.
Chris says they cook indirect in enclosed brick pits, but that wasn't my point. Maybe Big Bob Gibson liked to flip 'em 'cause he thought they'd cook more evenly or the skin would be crisper. When flipping the birds, they also baste both sides and add lots of black pepper to the cavity side .

Anyway, not even whole fryers take THREE HOURS at 325*! I know it would take a while to load or baste/turn/baste/pepper FIFTY birds per pit, so maybe I just answered my own queastion. I'm just wondering how Chris would recommend to do it on the wsm. Probably hotter than I get with the water pan, I know...
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Unread 09-23-2011, 09:07 AM   #4
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Well, fryers can weigh up to 7 lbs but the ones I see are usually 4 to 5 lbs. Perhaps they only get the larger birds?
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Unread 09-23-2011, 09:38 AM   #5
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Hi Guerry. By the way, I meant to tell ya thanks so much for the encouragement to try the BBG sop mop a few weeks ago. Used it first time for our Labor day weekend family reunion bbq and it's now my favorite pork dip. Lots of folks liked it and I skipped the red sauce altogether when eating with a fork. FANTASTIC stuff, so thanks again for bringing it up!

Regarding the yardbird size, Chris says on pg. 113: "Today the chickens served at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q weigh more than three pounds each, but in the early years sizing was irregular....chickens would fluctuate by as much as one pound..."

I've been there a couple of times in recent years and the fryers seemed pretty average; maybe in the 3.5 to 4 lb range if I had to guess. Not sure, though.

As I mentioned in my above post, I think I've decided that all the time loading and basting, flipping, basting again, and then peppering FIFTY birds at a time is what makes the BBG chicken cook time so long. Chris has a "bbq timeline" from the restaurant on pg. 12 so that would maybe confirm what I'm thinking. Also, the only therm I see is a probe that's near center of the pit LID, so maybe Chris just gives the recipe verbatim and didn't take the time to try to "translate" the temp/times for the avg. backyard cook. Make sense?
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Unread 09-23-2011, 09:43 AM   #6
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Yep. Makes perfect sense. Otherwise I'd expect about 2 hours max for a 4 lb bird. Glad you liked the "sauce"! It's been my favorite on pulled pork since I was a kid.
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Unread 09-23-2011, 10:05 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Russell View Post
Smoking (4) 3lb. split fryers on my 18.5" wsm this afternoon, with only one gal. water in the pan, and temps should be in the 250-275* range for the cook. I'm guessing 2.25-2.5 hr.
I know I could cook faster, but with a full wsm I like using some water in the pan so 275* is about my max temp. It'll take a bit to hit that, but hopefully 2.5 hrs will be enough time. I'll probably do my first check at about 2 hrs. Sound like a plan? I think I've only cooked split birds with water in the pan once before, but I promise I'll take better notes on this cook.
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Unread 09-23-2011, 10:47 AM   #8
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Do you put boiling (or near) water in the pan? This helps me get to temps quicker in my Cajun Bandit I've found. I've got a 12 qt pot I use for this that I put on the stove when I start the chimney. On the time I can't say as I haven't done a spatchcocked or whole chicken on the smoker (I'm chicken on chicken...) but a two hour in check sounds good.
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Unread 09-23-2011, 10:59 AM   #9
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Thanks for the reminder. I've used boiling water before, but usually just use hot tap. Will do though, and that should definately help. I don't need much for a chicken cook, anyway. I just find that it seems to keep the birds a little moister than if not, especially not whole birds. Regarding cooking closer to 275*, my plastic 55 gal. "heat retainer" ought to help, too.
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Unread 09-23-2011, 02:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Russell View Post
Chris says they cook indirect in enclosed brick pits, but that wasn't my point. Maybe Big Bob Gibson liked to flip 'em 'cause he thought they'd cook more evenly or the skin would be crisper.
I'd put money on direct heat. Not trying to say you're wrong, but I just don't think they are cooking indirect at the restaurant (not that I've ever been). They cook the same traditional way we would in North Carolina. The reason to flip the birds is indeed for more even cooking...cause they're gonna burn if you don't flip 'em.
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Unread 09-23-2011, 10:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cook View Post
I'd put money on direct heat. Not trying to say you're wrong, but I just don't think they are cooking indirect at the restaurant (not that I've ever been). They cook the same traditional way we would in North Carolina. The reason to flip the birds is indeed for more even cooking...cause they're gonna burn if you don't flip 'em.
...and I'd take your money.

I thumbed back through Chris Lilly's "Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book" and the pictures clearly show a blazing fire on one end of the pit and total blackness under the birds in that pic and in another. Maybe you think it's pointless to flip and baste butterflied birds if cooking indirect and you wouldn't be alone. However, the pictures clearly confirm what Chris writes on pg. 114 about how "the problems associated with cooking chickens have been addressed the Big Bob Gibson way...Next, 'keep it moist.' An oil baste ensures juicy meat. Finally, 'cook with indirect heat.' A hot fire coupled with indirect cooking results in chicken skin that is thin, crisp, and tasty."

I'm sure that at some point, Big Bob cooked directly over the coals. However, he's gone and that method of cooking at his restaurant evidently went at some time as well. Perhaps after a pit fire gutted the restaurant in 1987 and they remodeled. I have no idea though... Maybe before that.
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Unread 09-23-2011, 10:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deguerre View Post
Do you put boiling (or near) water in the pan? This helps me get to temps quicker in my Cajun Bandit I've found. I've got a 12 qt pot I use for this that I put on the stove when I start the chimney. On the time I can't say as I haven't done a spatchcocked or whole chicken on the smoker (I'm chicken on chicken...) but a two hour in check sounds good.
Cooked a little shy of 275* and they were done in two and a quarter hrs as suspected. The pecan smoke was just right and I caught the Missus dipping buffalo pretzel thins in the white sauce before supper if that tells ya anything. Thanks again for the boiling water reminder!
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Unread 09-24-2011, 06:28 AM   #13
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All the reading I have done (reading, since I've never visited the original location) seems to point to direct heat. I don't doubt at all that they could or may have changed their techniques. Thanks for the info.

I wonder if anyone here has ever seen their pits in action? It's just curiosity at this point.
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