Ras el Hanout BBQ chicken

It’s no exaggeration to say that buying a new BBQ late last year has transformed our cooking. We opted for a gas model made by leading BBQ brand Weber, despite everyone saying no! not gas! don’t do it! it tastes shit! But after twenty years with a charcoal BBQ which was a huge pain in the arse to prepare for cooking, we were looking for convenience, something we could have ready with minimal fuss and in little time. Something I could use as well as the older kids. And while I can’t speak for all gas BBQ’s there’s no question that the Weber range are fucking amazing when it comes to delivering charcoal flavour with gas. {And don’t even get me started on all the things it can do and accessories you can buy 😉 }.

We’ve used it for all kinds of meat, vegetables, and seafood, have experimented with long slow cooking for fall-off-the-bone ribs, and while we’ve made LOTS of chicken on it {wings, thighs, sausages, skewers}, the one time I made a whole chicken on the BBQ I spatchcocked it and misjudged the temperature, leaving it a little on the dry side. Last week while at the Sydney Fish Markets hubby and I stumbled on to Vic’s Meats, and among the haul we filled our freezer with was a very old fashioned looking corn fed chook. Naturally I didn’t want to ruin it by overcooking it so I decided that using the BBQ for roasting over a moderate indirect heat was the way to go.

I went for a Middle eastern vibe with the seasoning, mostly because I had also grabbed some ras el hanout at the fish markets and was dying to try it. The smells coming from the BBQ area while this was cooking were indescribable, the ras el hanout delivering an outrageously fragrant punch. I did tweak it a little by adding some dried oregano, a touch of smoked pimenton, sea salt flakes, and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. The addition of lemon halves to the roasting tray was also pure magic when it blended with the ras el hanout. I cannot urge you strongly enough to try this seasoning rub on your next BBQ, and chicken in particular. You could also go Mediterranean, Asian, or Texan with your flavours. Knock yourself out.

what you need

  • one {good quality} whole chicken cleaned and patted dry
  • dry seasoning rub: a mix of 2 to 3 tbsp ras el hanout, 2 tbsp sea salt flakes, 1 tbsp black pepper {freshly cracked ALWAYS}, a good pinch of smoked pimenton/paprika {Spanish if you can find it}, 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • aromatics: brown onion {2, quartered and unpeeled}, garlic cloves {8 – 10, crushed and unpeeled}, lemon {1, quartered}
  • olive oil, extra virgin is best
  • vegetables for roasting {potatoes, carrots, portobello mushrooms, asparagus, pumpkin, etc}, peeled and halved
  • sea salt, black pepper

what to do

  • Begin by preparing the BBQ. Ours is a three burner, and I turned all three up to maximum to preheat, about 400 C. Next prepare the chicken by patting dry and rubbing the seasoning mix all over it. Massage it with olive oil and rub a little more seasoning on it so it’s well coated. Arrange it breast-side up in a well oiled baking dish with the aromatics. I used an enamel pan and it worked beautifully, you could also use a disposable foil tray to save on washing up. When you are ready to cook and the BBQ is ready, turn off the middle burner and lower the two other burners to medium high.

  • Prepare the vegetables by seasoning well with salt and lots of pepper, and giving it a good drizzle of olive oil. Again, I went with an enamel pan but disposable foil is fine. I also kept the vegies simple with potatoes and purple carrots, before adding some asparagus to the pan with the chicken in the last five minutes.
  • After about 15 minutes check on the chicken, it should already be golden and sizzling. Turn it over, breast-side down,  for another 15 minutes.
  • When the chicken has been cooking for about half an hour turn it back to breast-side up and lower the dials to just below medium, or about 180 to 200 C if you have a temperature gauge. After another half an hour {so one hour cooking time so far} add the tray of vegetables to the BBQ. Remember to keep any soft or small vegies until later, such as asparagus or zucchini. Root vegetables should take about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on their size and the heat/temperature, by which time the chicken will also be ready. Remove both pans from the BBQ.
  • While the chicken rests in it’s pan I like to toast some bread on the BBQ before turning it off, either a sliced crusty loaf or some pita bread brushed with olive oil.
  • Serve with garlic dip and a simple green salad {peppery rocket works a treat}, and enjoy.


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