Variation on a Wing…
To say this recipe is a classic, is an understatement. The Cornell Chicken or NY State Fair Chicken is very famous on the East Coast. It was developed by Dr. Robert C. Baker, a Cornell University poultry science and food science professor. The recipe has been used at the NY state fair since 1946 where they cook over 5000 chickens every year in late August and early September.
The recipe calls for the chicken to be marinated up to 24hrs. In my experience, over 24hrs in the marinade will overpower the flavor of the chicken, but that 24hr mark puts out some nice bird. You can marinade in the course of one day, but you will need to baste the chicken while it is cooking, every 5-10 minutes to get the full bang of the recipe. Whatever route you go with, the result is a very flavorful, tangy chicken with a crisp skin and juicy meat.
You can-and should-try this chicken the old fashioned way (no rub), at least once with nothing more than the marinade over indirect heat, or as I like, using a rotisserie fitted grill. Being a believer in real BBQ or meat cooked with burning wood of some sort, I add a little smoke to my grill via the built in wood box my propane grill affords me. You don’t need a fancy set up like mine. You can get the same thing by making a packet out of aluminum foil filled with your favorite smoking wood set near or on top of the fire source so it ignites.
Since rotisserie chicken cooks in a little over an hour, I use assertive smoking wood like Hickory, Mesquite, Walnut or Pecan to impart some flavor. Woods like Post Oak, Cherry, Pear and Apple are too mild to taste after only 1 hour of smoking. I’ve made this chicken in its pure form several times, but in this post, I’m adding a bit of my favorite BBQ Chicken Rub.
Cornell Chicken with Sunset BBQ Rub
To be clear the Cornell chicken recipe is the marinade only. You should try the recipe once with just using the marinade to see if you like it better. For me, I think the marinade does a great job on flavoring the meat, but the skin needed a little something. For that something, I've linked the Sunset BBQ Chicken Rub recipe for you to try.
- 1 egg whole, fresh
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp poultry seasoning
- 1/4 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1 5-6lbs chicken whole, good quality
Sunset BBQ Chicken Rub
For the marinade, add all of the ingredients to a blender except for the oil. Start your blender on medium high speed to incorporate dry spices then slowly add the oil until all of it is emulsified.
Take the clean chicken and place into a gallon sized Ziplock bag. Pour the marinade over the top of the chicken and close the Ziplock, eliminating as much air as possible from the bag while closing.
Marinate for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. If for some reason you can't get to cooking the chicken the next day take the poultry out of the marinade and place it in another clean ziplock. Marinating more than 24 hours can make the chicken too tangy.
Once the chicken is trussed rub vegetable oil all over the chicken. This will help the seasoning to stick. Season the chicken all over with the rub in a large mixing bowl. Make sure to get a fair bit of seasoning into the cavity of the chicken and down the neck of the chicken. You can be generous with the seasoning. It will make for a tasty crust.
Preheat grill to 375°F/190°C. Do not turn the gas elements on directly under the bird. Instead turn on the element at one end or both ends usually on low. Allow some time for the temperature to stabilize and make adjustments as needed.
Insert rotisserie equipment through the whole chicken as directed by the manufacturers instructions.
Place the rotisserie skewer into the mechanism as directed and cook at 375°F/190°C for approximately one hour. Stop the rotating skewer and check the internal temperature (with an instant read thermometer) of the chicken in the thickest parts of the bird. In the thigh area (without touching the bone) and the breast. The internal temperature for the chicken should reach 165°F/75°C before removing from the rotisserie.
Once the chicken has reached it's required internal temperature remove it from the grill and place on a cooking sheet. Place a large sheet of aluminum foil around the chicken and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes before removing from the skewer. After 15-20 remove the skewer from the chicken and continue to allow to rest covered by the aluminum foil for another 10 minutes. This will allow much of the juice to reabsorb into the meat making it extremely tender.
After the chicken has rested remove the trussing twine and cut the chicken into serving pieces and serve. Save any juices that have accumulated an top on the chicken and enjoy.