Cider and Sage Infused Roast Chicken on the Weber Poultry Roaster
We are very fortunate to have a bbq expert in the house. Andy bbqs all year round, and I always look forward to when he roasts a whole chicken. This Cider and Sage Infused Roast Chicken is a favourite.
Weber BBQ Coals and Equipment
Andy often sounds like a walking advertisement for Weber. There are two main reasons for that. One is that he grew up with Weber BBQs in South Africa and he has cooked just about everything you can think of on them. The second reason is that he has tested the others, whether that be the equipment or bbq coals, and he always comes back to Weber.
Andy has a number of BBQs. The one he uses for whole roasts is his Weber 57cm kettle bbq.
If you have known us for a while, you'll know we ran Little Sunflowers childrenswear for 14 years, then started the Almost Off Grid Homebrew business, eventually closing Little Sunflowers for good. There were periods when business was tough, we struggled financially, and we had to reduce our spending. Weber equipment is a lot of things, but one thing it isn't is cheap. We bought cheap bbq coals for years, thinking we were saving money.
The problem with cheap coals is that they burn away incredibly quickly. That means if you are trying to roast a chicken, for example, and need the coals to burn well for a couple of hours, the cheap ones don't. You'll end up either using most of a bag for a chicken, or finishing it off in the oven because it hasn't cooked before the coals are gone (been there, done that).
And you can still use high quality bbq charcoal when you're cooking something quickly. You start the coals, close the kettle bbq down when you've finished and the coals will stop burning. Which means they are not wasted, you can re-use them next time. Re-using bbq coals. Who knew?
So do yourself a favour. Buy Weber bbq briquettes. They burn for hours, and will still be red hot when your chicken is finished. Then you can chuck some bananas on the bbq for pudding.
Weber Deluxe Poultry Roaster
We had seen Weber Poultry Roasters in the garden centre, but didn't really understand how to use them until we went to a Weber Grill Academy evening years ago. The chef created all kinds of wonderful on his and, the pushovers that we are, we bought one. Not all bbq gadgetry is created equal, however. Some of the gadgets he has bought over the years are not used very often, but Andy uses his poultry roaster all the time. We've had it for years and it still looks as good as new.
Homemade Cider and Fresh Sage
We use homemade cider in this recipe because we've always got some somewhere. What do you mean, you don't make cider? Here's a beginner's guide to making cider ;-)
We also grow sage on our allotment. You of course can of course buy both from the supermarket. Some of the Sage is used in and on the chicken, some is smoked alongside.
Using Indirect Heat when BBQing
When you are cooking something like a joint of meat or whole chicken, you need to use indirect heat so that the outside of the meat isn't burnt before the inside is cooked. We use bbq coal holders on either side of the bbq which hold the hot coals in place throughout cooking. Cooking chicken this way ensures that the outside meat stays beautifully moist (yet has a crispy skin) and the inside is cooked throughout.
Cider and Sage Infused Roast Chicken on the Weber Poultry Roaster - Recipe
- A large chicken, approximately 2kg. Ideally local and free range. Free range chickens cost a bit more, but they tend to be fattier and add more flavour to the dish. We got this one from Davies & Sons in our village
- Vegetable oil (any kind) to massage the chicken skin
- 2 handfuls of fresh sage
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground Black Pepper
- A bottle of cider
- Potatoes to cook alongside, peeled or not as liked, and chopped for roasting. The ones in the picture are Jersey Royal Potatoes.
Light the bbq using a full Chimney Starter with Weber Briquettes. You will be cooking the chicken via the indirect method, ie the briquettes will be on 2 sides of the bbq and the chicken will be roasting in the middle.
Whilst the bbq is heating up, rub the bird with vegetable oil so the skin is covered, and season with salt and pepper.
Pour cider into the hole in the middle of the roaster until it is almost full. Put one half handful of sage into the cider in the roaster too. Cover the hole with the pronged part of the roaster.
Stuff another half handful of the fresh sage inside the chicken.
Put the chicken neck-end up on to the poultry roaster.
Add a little more cider into the tray 'moat' around the chicken to add flavour.
Finally, put the plug in to the neck of the chicken, to stop the evaporated cider escaping out of the top of the bird. As the poultry roaster heats up, the cider and sage will heat up too. By stopping the steam escaping out of the top, you are allowing the steam to infuse into the chicken instead.
Your chicken will now look like an uncooked version of this (minus the potatoes which we haven't added yet!)
When your bbq coals are ready, open the sides of the bbq and pour half the coals into one side, and half the other (see video below or on our YouTube Channel). Andy uses bbq coal holders to keep them in place. Obviously the grill is very hot at this point and Andy uses his trusty Weber gloves to protect his hands when handling the hot metal. Whatever you use, be very careful.
Put the lid on the BBQ and leave it for a few minutes to heat up, as you would an oven.
Open the lid and put the remaining handful of sage leaves on the grill, to one side of the bbq but not over the coals. They will slowly dry out via direct heat, then gently smoke the chicken with more sage flavour.
Add the chicken in the poultry roaster. Place the chicken in the middle of the grill, then put the lid back on.
After 45 minutes or so, toss your potatoes in vegetable oil and sea salt. Open the bbq lid and add the potatoes in the 'moat' around the poultry roaster. By now the sage on the grill will have dried out, but will not be smoking yet. Replace the lid.
At some point in the new few minutes, you should see (and smell!) smoke escaping from the lid of the bbq for a while, which will be your sage smoking. Yum.
After another 45 minutes, remove the lid again. Probe your chicken into a thick part of the breast at an angle, to see if it's cooked. Remember the rule '75 to stay alive', ie be sure the thickest part of the breast is above 75 degrees.
When confident the chicken is cooked and take it inside. Remove the chicken from the poultry roaster with tongs, cover with foil (shiny side facing the chicken) to keep it warm and leave it to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Put the roaster with the potatoes back on the bbq for 20-30 minutes to finish off and crisp up whilst the chicken is resting. Keep an eye on them to ensure they don't burn.
More Almost Off Grid Favourites
Stuffed Rotisserie Pork Belly on the BBQ
Raw Honey and Mustard Salad Dressing