Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken

I’m still working in my new Weber Performer charcoal grill. . I’ve cooked and blogged about grilling spatchcocked many times – usually it’s with some Italian seasoning of garlic, lemon, rosemary and thyme. But if you are looking for an even easier recipe – here you go – you can totally do this with a gas or charcoal grill. This specific recipe is from Serious Eats but it’s a pretty common, basic recipe.

Buy a nice 3 1/2 – 4 lb whole chicken. The chicken is the center of this recipe so get a nice one. I picked up 1 4.14 lb one at New Seasons. Cut out the backbone with some cooking shears, turn it over and press hard on it to get it flat. This is called spatchcocking – you can call it butterflied if you’d like.

Sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of kosher salt and a bit of pepper on both sides.

Spatchcocked (Butterflied) chicken with salt and pepper
I don’t normally include pictures of raw poultry; but here is the rare case.            Spatchcocked (Butterflied) chicken with salt and pepper

Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to give it a dry brine. This will help keep it juicy on the hot grill. Mine was in the refrigerator for about 6 hours. Eight hours is great – some people even go up to 24 hours.

If you have a gas grill fire up all the burners to it nice and hot. For a charcoal grill light a chimney full of briquets and let burn about 15 minutes then spread over one side of the grill. I put mine in the slow ‘n sear container. Put the grate on and let warm up for about five minutes then clean and oil the grill. (I oil mine by dipping  a bunch of paper towels in a small bowl with a little vegetable oil then brushing the grates using a long handled tong) If using a gas grill turn off half the burners and clean and oil the grates. If you want to get some wood smoke, add a small chunk – I normally use apple with poultry.

Put the chicken on the indirect (cooler) side of the grill skin side up with the breast away from the fire. Cook until the thickest part of the breast reaches 110°. We are cooking by temperature – not time. Mine reached the intermediate target temp after about 35 minutes – I used a probe and left the lid on until it registered

Spatchcocked chicken on the grill
Spatchcocked chicken on the grill ready to be flipped

What is that brick doing there? This is  totally optional step; in order to get the skin side to make good contact with the grill after flipping I put on an aluminum foil wrapped brick that has been in the grill to get hot.

At any rate. flip the chicken skin side down and move over the direct (hotter) side of the grill and press down to make good contact. Again, keep the breast pointed to the cooler side of the grill. It’s target temp is about 165° while the thighs need to get much hotter. Double check the temp with an instant read thermometer to make sure your probe isn’t in a hot spot, leaving some undercooked chicken. If the skin is starting to burn on the direct side, slide it back over to the cooler side. I should have done this; you’ll see in the following pictures that the legs got a bit toasty.

When it’s just shy of the 165° target take it off the grill and loosely tent with aluminum foil and let rest 10 minutes. The carryover heat should bring the internal temp up to spec. Just note that 165° is the USDA recommended temperature for safe consumption of chicken.

Spatchcocked (butterflied) chicken grilled and ready for carving
Spatchcocked (butterflied) chicken grilled and ready for carving

Despite that dark skin (due partly to the wood smoke) this was a moist chicken. During the last 10 minutes or so of the grilling I added a couple of ears of corn on the cob.

Grilled corn on the cob to go with the grilled chicken
Grilled corn on the cob to go with the grilled chicken

And we have a nice simple dinner of chicken and corn on the cob

Dinner is served - grilled spatchcocked (butterflied) chicken
Dinner is served – grilled spatchcocked (butterflied) chicken

This is a completely serviceable dinner. When cooked right the chicken breast doesn’t get dried out and stringy. I used two chunks of wood and that might have been a bit much.  If you want to impress company I’d dress it up with some garlic, oil, herbs and olive oil. But if you want a straightforward, no frills grilled chicken – here you go.

On a side note – I finally figured out how to get enable getting blown up versions of the images. A few months ago WordPress changed their editing interface and I didn’t realize the images weren’t links. I spent an hour on the internet to get the answer – so click away on the images.


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