Everyone loves a good roast chicken - from the juicy legs to the crispy skin, nothing can beat the flavour of this classic dish. But, what if you cooked it over open fire? You would have a hanging chicken.

Now you're playing with a whole new realm of elements. This chicken will take on the flavour of the wood, the fragrance of the smoke and the spice of the seasoning. It is an experience you cannot replicate anywhere else.

Below you will find my how-to on cooking this delicious dish. I will walk you through the prep, fire and cooking of the chicken so that you can look like a backyard gaucho the next time you invite friends over for dinner.

The Prep Work

There are 3 major components when prepping a hanging chicken:
seasoning, trussing and fire.


Seasoning for hanging chicken is very simple - olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika.  Rub the chicken down with olive oil thoroughly, this will create a crispy texture and assist other spices to penetrate the meat. Rub down the chicken with your desired seasoning, make sure to add some into the chicken cavity.

Trussing (or use the Food over Fire Bird Cage)

Trussing is wrapping the chicken in string so it hangs properly over the fire.
This is truly an art form, but easy to learn. First, you need trussing string. I prefer string because I think it does not distort the flavour of the chicken. 

Cut a 1.5m segment of trussing string, make sure to soak it in water for a second so it's moist and won't burn when cooking. Lay the chicken on its back, place string underneath it so it's on the mid back of the chicken. Make sure the chicken is in the middle of the string.

Cross the string across the middle of the chicken (around middle of the legs) and pull hard so the legs are pushed up slightly. Wrap the string once around the bottom of the legs starting from the outside then going around towards the inside. While keeping pressure so the string does not loosen, bring both ends of the string over the neck and around the tail until you are at the cross point where you started. Make sure the string is very tight on the chicken and tie it off at the middle strings.

This trussing technique is very useful as it gives the chicken the ability to be hung from multiple positions.

Taking Care of the Fire

The fire burning underneath!The fire burning underneath! The key to having a good fire is all about consistency. The type of wood is very essential for cooking over open fire.
For an even temperature, try to get the fire around 204C. This means that when you place your hand safely 10cm from the flames then you can keep it there for 3-4 seconds.

Keep adding logs until the fire is extremely hot. The fire is slow to build but quick to burn so it is better to start hot and then cool down. Lastly, make sure to surround the chicken with fire. Make a circle or square of fire around the meat so that it cooks from multiple angles. Once you have your fire ready, then it is time to cook!

Time to Cook

Lets let it hang.Once the fire is nice and hot, then it is time to hang the chicken!

Hang the chicken using string & an S-hook about a metre from the fire. You can use a tripod, stick or a custom rig, just make sure that it will support the chicken for multiple hours.

Hanging chicken takes about 4-5 hours to cook, so this is where you might want a chilly bin of beer ready.

For the first hour, hang the chicken with the breast closest to the fire. The meat on the top will take the longest to cook, therefore it should be the first thing to get cooking. On the second hour, hang the chicken from the back. This will help the breast continue to cook evenly and thoroughly.

For the third hour, hang the chicken from the neck so that the legs and wings get roasted. Once you hit the fourth hour, hang the chicken from the breast so that the back of the meat gets some love. Finally, for the last 30min to an hour, hang the chicken from the back to warm up the whole bird.

The internal temperature of the chicken should be around 74C when ready to eat. This will let you know if the chicken should cook longer over the fire. When the chicken is done, pull it off and eat immediately.

Keep a close eye on the chicken while its cooking, make sure to keep the trussing moist so that it does not break. Do not feel like you have failed if the chicken falls. Just make sure to re-truss it and place it back over the fire.

Becoming a Backyard Gaucho!

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 6hrs
Total Time: 6hrs 10mins

1 whole chicken, Kosher Salt, Ground Pepper, Paprika, Olive Oil, Butcher Twine

Season chicken with all ingredients above. Truss chicken using string.
Hang over fire for 4-6 hours or until internal temperature reaches 73C
Cuisine: Argentinian

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