How Nashville’s Pelican and Pig Makes String-Roasted Chicken Over an Open Fire

“I’ve done string-roasted chickens in the past. I really like the visual of it, the way the chicken comes out, the texture, the flavor,” says Nick Guidry, who, as chef and co-owner of Nashville’s Pelican and Pig, has plenty of experience roasting meats over his restaurant’s indoor open-fire hearth. But this chicken, he says, “will be a fun one.”

Guidry doesn’t just throw meat and vegetables on the fire and let the smoke do all of the work. At his spot, various combinations of spices, glazes, marinades, and sauces come together to make something truly unique. This whole chicken, for example, has been cured in shio koji overnight, and gets rubbed down with a puree of fire-roasted tomatoes, carrots, onions, vinegar, and citrus.

He then trusses the chicken and adds local white oak to the wood-burning oven located in the restaurant’s brick hearth. He hangs the bird over the fire and lets it slowly roast and crisp up. “It’s just a more delicate heat, and that’s going to provide a slower and more controlled way of doing things, but it also allows us to get that barbecue flavor by lightly smoking it,” says Guidry.

Once the chicken has been roasted, Guidry spatchcocks it and finishes it on the grill for extra char. It’s then served over grilled garlic scapes tossed in shallot oil.

“The fun aspect about our menu is, every week we’re coming in with [ideas for] developing a new cooking style or doing something in a way that we’ve never done before,” Guidry says. “That allows us to create the freedom to [research and develop] new dishes. It’s all about learning and continually pushing ourselves.”

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