Fireman's Chicken

Discussion in 'Grilling Tips' started by pops6927, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    When my dad had his store in our little town, our Volunteer Fire Department would have their annual Fireman's Field Days in August. There were rides and games and beer of course; plus they'd have a big pit Chicken BBQ every year. Dad would get in the chickens and split them for the department and we'd separate the left halves in one 55 gal. drum and the right halves in another. They'd come in and make up their 'secret Fireman's Field Days brining formula' by the gallon full and dump it into the brining barrels and let soak for 3 days. I broke it down to it's smallest components one year and it goes something like this:

    1 cup vegetable oil
    ¼ cup white vinegar
    4 eggs
    1 tsp poultry seasoning
    ½ tsp salt
    ¼ tsp black pepper

    That's the basic recipe. You can jazz it up with other things too; sometimes I add some Italian seasoning or just oregano, plus always toss in some parsley for color.

    You can marinade for an hour or overnight, take out and put on a hot grill. You'll get flaming, have some water nearby. Turn then baste, letting the egg congeal before turning again. You'll build up a crust on the chicken with the basting. Cook until 160° in the thickest part (or higher, whatever your preference).

    The firemen would build a pit with interlocking sides about 3' high and a bed of charcoal about 4' wide and 12' long. They'd use large 4'x4' wire mesh hinged double grates with long bars on each end so they could open the grate, lay down the chicken halves, close up and lay across the pit, then one fireman on each side could flip the entire thing to cook the other side. The juices and marinade would drip down into the coals, emanating the most wonderful aroma you could smell throughout the entire town; you knew it was field days time!

    Try it, you'll like it!
  2. cajunsmoke13

    cajunsmoke13 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks Pops...that sounds good. Need to try that.
  3. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    C'mon Pops,
    Some of us aren't smart enough to know why you put the lefties in one barrel, and the righties in another barrel. Are you gonna just leave us hanging here???
    Is it because they fit on your racks better that way, or what ??????????

    Did you leave the reason out, to set us up???
    Well you caught one, so spit it out !!!

  4. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm bumping this to get an answer.
    I know curiosity killed the cat, but hopefully I still have a few lives left.[​IMG]

  5. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I know some think that one side is more tender than the other because one side was use harder than the other.

    They could of done this so that they could maximize the grill surface. With the same side pieces they can get them in there in a tighter formation.

    I too am curious as to why they did this.
  6. badfrog

    badfrog Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Chickens typically are "right handed". because of this, the right side of the chicken is often a bit larger, but also not quite as tender as the left side. by separating them, you can perfect the cooking time for each...

    REALLY???!!!! just kidding! I have no idea! guessing it has to do with grill organization... did I have any one going on that???
  7. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    OK you have really sparked my interest on this one for I'm going to the Internet and then the books and I'll find out if this is true/false or a good trick to get folks to eat allot of chicken parts.
    Does the right half taste better for 2.00
    Does the left side tasted better for 2.50

    ????? GO FIGURE ???????
  8. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes, it's to maximize the usage of the grills to have as much chicken on each as possible; opposite sides use too much room. You can reverse each like half to utilize maximum grilling space, fitting as many on each grill as possible. Sorry about that! Plus, it was easier cutting them in half, throwing one one way and the other the other way into two separate barrels. We had to split 30 cases of 20 each or more, 2¾-3lb birds, removing all giblet packages first and tossing them into bone buckets to throw out (nobody wanted that much livers or gizzards!).
  9. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    The left and right thing doesn't interest me as much as eggs in a brine. Curious mind's need to know. [​IMG]
  10. fritz

    fritz Meat Mopper

  11. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks Pops,
    I guessed right.[​IMG]

    Now I can finally sleep----Just kidding!

  12. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wow, never knew of it's history, that's great! I just know come Field Days time our mouths would water for the chicken, the aroma would envelope the town (only 500 people) and I knew someday I'd move away and had to find out their recipe so I could recreate it. One house we moved into, the first thing we set up on the back porch was the gas grill as the stove wasn't hooked up yet. I'd done up a huge batch of fireman chicken at the old place and brought it with us, planning on several meals from it and proceeded to start cooking some of it up. Of course with all the oil and stuff great billows of smokey delight poured out of the gas grill.... our new neighbors thought the house was on fire and called the local fire department. They came running down the driveway to the back of the house, hose in hand, but were laughing, "We didn't think that smelled like a house fire!" and I had them and the neighbors all over for chicken that night, cooking up the entire batch!
    markbeer likes this.
  13. crown225

    crown225 Fire Starter

    do you brush this on during the cooking or just marinate it overnite
  14. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Both - marinade, then after putting on grill you flip, brush, then wait and cook, flip, brush, wait, etc. allowing the egg to congeal. Don't brush then immediately flip.
    This is also great on country style ribs, too.

    Another variation on this is called 'spiedies'. You use an oil/vinegar base without the egg and add Italian spices, salt, pepper, garlic, etc. You cut up boneless pork butt into ½" chunks and marinade 3 days, then grill on a small-hole grill plate, turning and cooking, brushing with the marinade as it cooks, then serve into sub rolls, adding choice of condiments (chopped onions, mustard, garlic, parmesean, etc.). Real big in Binghampton, NY., they have 'spiedie shops' in the city.
  15. walle

    walle Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Thanks Fritz... I was just going for my recipe book as the "egg/oil/vinegar" had me thinking Cornell...

    Buddy of mine talked me into doing chicken thighs for the company bbq this way a couple of years ago.. people when crazy over it.

    Great story, Pops - thanks for sharing.
  16. crown225

    crown225 Fire Starter

    So if I wanted to try this on 4 hind quarters how much marinade would you make

    can I just cut this recipe in half

    1 cup vegetable oil
    ¼ cup white vinegar
    4 eggs
    1 tsp poultry seasoning
    ½ tsp salt
    ¼ tsp black pepper
  17. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    for 4 leg quarters I'd use what's there myself. Sure, you'll throw some out, but it's enough to cover it too. Cut into your leg quarters at the knee joint half-separating the drum from the thigh to let blood in the joint out before cooking too for better appearance, and you can break the hipbone joint too for the same reason, separating the hip from the socket. Makes it easier to carve when hot.
  18. crown225

    crown225 Fire Starter

    Thanks for the info and help
  19. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    This is from a Facebook post of a friend of ours, Scott MacPherson, where he's at a chicken BBQ at a Fireman's Field Day; snagged the photo to show what these were like!
  20. jrod62

    jrod62 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Going to give this a try. Soon. Real soon :grilling_smilie:

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