At our elk hunting camp everyone joins together in the evenings for supper. I plan the menu and assign each person what they need to make/bring. If the husbands come without their wives I always assign them foods that require no last-minute preparation.
This year I decided to try grilling one night. Now I’m the type to try new recipes on my guests but since I’m making an effort to change that habit, I did practice this at home – once. It turned out so well that I felt confident we could do it at camp.
I was a little concerned about wrapping the chicken in aluminum foil because of all the negative things I’ve heard aluminum does for you, but then my niece recommended I use parchment paper first, followed by the foil. An excellent suggestion!
I was forgetting one little detail in all my planning and that was we had over 60 people at camp. When I realized that I would be making 91 packets, I swallowed hard and had to really think about the logistics of the whole operation. My first plan involved using some extra oven grates we had around here to set on the fire but I realized that with 91 packets I didn’t have near enough oven grates. So that idea was thrown out when my husband came up with the clever idea of using hog panel fencing. So that’s what we did. We took 2 panels and overlapped them, making for the most part, small openings that the packets could not fall through.
Here is how we cooked the packets.
Russell had some boys, who were full of energy, to dig/pick a trench for me 12′ long and 2′ wide. The depth was about 1′. Then a fire was built using pine wood which worked okay but if you have hardwood around, I think it would be preferable. The problem I had with the pine wood was the coals were already starting to die out in some areas. Not what I wanted when I had so many packets to grill!
Here is the trench.
After the fire died down, I spread the coals into a thin layer. Those coals are very hot so only a thin layer is needed for the duration of the cooking time. I placed the hog panel on the fire trying to overlap them properly. Then came the chicken packets.
As you can see from the picture we still had areas of flame that we tried to avoid. All it does is burn the chicken and you don’t want that! As it was, we had a few pieces that did not escape the blackened effect.
We flipped the packets every 10 minutes to try and avoid any burning. If we were cold when we started cooking, we weren’t when we finished. Those coals are hot!
I was very pleased with the results. I’ve always wondered how to cook over coals and now I found it’s nothing to be intimidated by. For me the main thing is to be sure you have coals and not fire. Secondly, to spread them in a thin layer. They don’t need to be deep.
Here is how we prepared the chicken packets.
I made a rub from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen. It is a tasty rub that I definately recommend. I did not follow his measurements exactly since I thought it sounded like a lot of salt but I’ll type it up just as he has it in the book.
Basic Barbecue Rub
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
3 T black pepper
3 T coarse salt
1 T hickory-smoked salt of more coarse salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. celery seeds
1 tsp. cayenne pepper.
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir. Store the rub in an airtight jar away from heat or light; it will keep for at least 6 months.
1. Lay a piece of heavy duty foil down, followed by parchment paper
2. Place a pat of butter on paper (I thought this might help it to brown the chicken but it may not be necessary.)
3. Place piece of chicken on butter pat and rub some of the Basic Barbecue Rub on. (Since I had so many pieces of chicken to do, I placed several pieces of chicken into a bowl, sprinkled the rub on and just kind of mixed it up so that all the pieces would get coated.)
3. Place a small to medium potato in each packet.
4. Fold the sides of the parchment first, followed by the bottom and then the top.
5. Repeat the same step with the foil.
6. Cook for 1hr. 15 minutes.
You will have a delicious chicken piece and a perfectly done potato. Add to your meal some salad and a hot roll and you’ll have a complete meal.
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