After needling Husband about it in the two years since we moved into our house, we have finally purchased a grill. A big, grown-up grill. Okay, not too grown up. Until we have the money/space/etc. needed for the outdoor kitchen of our dreams, this one will have to do. Mother Nature, of course, chose to reward us by raining practically every night since this purchase was made, but we have managed to squeeze in a few dinners. And I even practiced my chicken-butchering skills.
I consider myself something of a chicken-roasting savant. I don't care what anyone else says, I roast a mean chicken. I decided to try my hand at whole chicken grilling. Husband seemed a little concerned, because the chicken does end up a little more blackened than it would in the oven, but fear not folks - it is delicious. The first step in grilling a whole chicken is your chicken: I am partial to smaller, fryer sized chickens, and the butcher at Weiland's leaves them whole for me. Now, I don't know about anyone else, and I don't want to knock any of the wonderful poultry farmers who are at the markets each Saturday, but I can't really afford a $5 a pound chicken. Well, let's just say the guilt is too great if I mess it up. I'll be running around the kitchen screeching "but that is a $23 chicken! I don't care if it was left in the oven during the cleaning cycle! We are going to eat it!" I much prefer Weiland's local, Amish, free-range, antibiotic-free chickens for $1.59 a pound. If you're wondering how they can make it so cheap, then you have never met an Amish farmer. The typical fryer is about 3 pounds; of course, there are only two of us, and between us and our growing selection of begging cats, we can eat about the whole chicken. You might need to buy 2 chickens.
Step two is procuring some manner of heavy object with which to weight your chicken. I bought some 13" stepping stones for the garden at Lowe's recently and found they did the job perfectly, as they are heavy and cover the entire chicken. You could also use a few bricks, or a pan with a heavy can placed inside (by which I mean the industrial-sized #10 can of baked beans or the like). Wrap the brick in a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and place next to your grill.
Step three is spatchcocking your chicken. Spatchcocking is process whereby you remove the keel bone (think of it as a collar bone and sternum) from the bird; you cut the breast in half and "unfold" the bird so that he is flat. (Click here for pictures on how to do this - the tutorial uses poultry sheers, but I just use a big knife.) Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, or make some sort of rub. I used 1 Tbsp of salt mixed with a pinch each of black pepper, cayenne, sweet paprika and cumin powder.
Heat your grill to moderately hot. Drizzle your chicken with a little olive oil and place him, skin side down, on the hot grill for about 5 minutes, or until the skin is starting to blacken. You may have flare-ups, so keep a spray bottle of water handy. Turn over and place your brick on top of him, grilling for about 10 minutes. Flip again, placing the weight back on, and grill for another 10 minutes, but start checking for doneness after 8 minutes. You can do this using an internal thermometer or by inserting a knife into the breast - if the juices run clear, he's done. Do not over cook! Remove the chicken from the grill to a plate, cover with aluminum foil and allow to sit for 10 minutes. During this time, I placed a pan of bread salad in the grill, on top of the brick (in an oven-safe dish, or course).
To serve - if you're serving with bread salad - drizzle the bread salad with a little good extra virgin olive oil, add the accumulated chicken juices from the resting plate, and place the chicken on top of the bread salad. Enjoy with a nice green salad and some nice red wine. Or white wine. We chose Qupé Syrah, one of our favorites. This meal tastes best eaten outside, something I can now happily do.
Local Sources for this Dinner:
Chicken from Weiland's Gourmet Market
Tomatoes are hydroponically grown from Wishwell farms, every Saturday morning at the North Market and and Worthington Farmer's Market
Last year on this day I was Cleaning Closets!