This method of grilling a whole chicken is so foolproof that I don’t know why I don’t do it more often. It is simple to take out the backbone with kitchen shears and then flatten the bird. You end up with an evenly cooked, gorgeously browned chicken, here infused with the bright flavors of lemon and fresh herbs.–Fred Thompson
LC Learn to Spatchcock! Note
The foolproofness–not to mention the brilliance–of this recipe lies not just in its perky marinade, but in the aforementioned technique of taking the backbone out, which enables you to flattening the bird and which, in turn, ensures the bird cooks evenly on the grill. This is known as “butterflying” the bird, presumably because the spread-out hen resembles a butterfly (well, sort of, a little, um, maybe after a few beers…). If you’re in Great Britain or the Land Down Under, you’ll also hear this technique referred to as “spatchcocking” (we won’t delve into the etymology of this term, although we will divulge that we do like to say it!). Whatever you call this nifty trick, after you try it once, you’re going to want to do it again. And again. And again. A word to the wise (and the spatchcock-obsessed): a pair of sturdy kitchen shears will make much quicker work of the task than even your trustiest chef’s knife, though the latter comes in handy after you pull the chicken from the grill and need to divvy up the chicken parts.
Grilled Greek Chicken Recipe
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 55 minutes, not including marinating | Serves 4 to 6
- 1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds), neck and giblets removed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Greek Marinade
- Oil for the grill rack
- 1. To make the grilled Greek chicken, place the bird, breast side down, on a cutting board. Using kitchen shears or a large knife, cut along one side of the backbone from tail to neck. Pull open the bird, then cut along the other side of the backbone and discard the backbone or save it for stock. Turn the chicken breast side up and open it as flat as possible, as you would a book. Press down firmly on the breast to break the breastbone—you will hear and feel popping—and flatten the chicken
- 2. Season the chicken generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag so that it lies flat or place it in a baking dish or other large container. Add the marinade and seal the bag, squishing the marinade around the chicken, or turn the chicken to coat. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours. (The longer the better.) Be sure to turn the bag or chicken several times while the chicken is marinating.
- 3. At least 30 minutes before you’re ready to grill, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Drain and discard the marinade. Pat the chicken dry.
- 4. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium heat. If using charcoal, bank the lit coals on one side of the grill bed, and place a drip pan in the area without coals. If using gas, preheat the burners, then turn off 1 or more of the burners to create a cooler zone. The temperature inside the grill should be 350º to 375ºF (180º to 190ºC). Brush and oil the grill grate.
- 5. Place the chicken, skin side down, over the direct-heat area of the grill. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, away from the bone, registers 170ºF (77ºC) or the juices run clear when a thigh joint is pierced with a knife tip, 15 to 25 minutes more, depending on the size. If the chicken begins to burn, move it to the indirect-heat area of the grill for a little more time.
- 6. Transfer the grilled Greek chicken to a cutting board, tent it loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into serving pieces and serve at once.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
Grilled Greek Chicken Recipe © 2011 Fred Thompson. Photo © 2011 Ray Kachatorian. All rights reserved.