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A Better Grilled Chicken

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I love grilled chicken. It seems sort of simple and mundane, but when you prepare the humble bird my favorite way, it is explosive with juiciness, flavor and pizzazz.

Whole Roasted Chicken goes with everything. It is the Little Black Dress of the food world!  Juicy, moist and with big flavor. It just doesn’t get any better than that. But, roasting a whole chicken in the summer is kind of a letdown for me. The oven heats up the house, the chicken is delicious but lacking in the summer je ne sais quoi. The outdoors beckons in the summer. I want to be outside communing with my garden, my view of the sunset and a glass of wine with my grill.

Most people destroy their chicken on the grill. They over cook it, the flames are too high or they try to grill boneless, skinless chicken and wonder why their entire dinner stuck to the grill.

My favorite technique for grilling chicken is called Spatchcocking.  The back bone and sternum are cut out of the chicken and then the chicken is flattened by just pressing on it. The result is a moist bird that is easy to marinate, easy to grill because it cooks evenly and makes a great presentation.

 The flattened bird still has that moist juiciness that usually comes only with a whole roasted chicken and makes having roasted chicken a weeknight possibility. The whole bird cooks in about 30 minutes. Normally a whole roasted chicken takes over an hour to cook.

While spatchcocking sounds funny and complicated, it is actually very easy, but still funny sounding!  All you need are good sturdy kitchen shears.

Place the chicken breast side down on a sturdy cutting board. I like to put a couple of paper towels under the chicken so it does not slide while I am cutting it.

Cut along the either side of the backbone from the neck to the tail. Remove the back bone and spread open the chicken. Cut a small slit in the cartilage along the breast bone. With both hands, crack open the chicken by opening it like a book.

This will reveal the keel bone, (cartilage that runs in the middle of the breast). Pull up on the keel bone to remove it. The chicken is now ready to grill. This whole procedure is very simple, only involves cutting one bone and should only take a couple of minutes.

Grilled Whole Chicken

For the marinade

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 shallots, grated on microplane

1 rosemary sprig

Several thyme sprigs

Juice and zest of 2 lemons

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons pimenton* (smoked paprika)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

1 whole chicken, about 3 ½ pounds, spatchcocked

  1. Place all of the ingredients for the marinade in container that can accommodate the chicken. Place the chicken in the marinade and rub the marinade all over the chicken. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.
  3. Place the chicken, skin-side down on the grill. Cook on the skin side until the skin is golden brown, about 12 minutes. Turn the chicken over and continue grilling until a thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 165, about 15 minutes.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a platter and lightly cover with foil to rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Cut the chicken into quarters or halves. Serve hot or cold.
Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here. For more articles by Laura, click here.
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