One of the most pleasurable of all summer activities, in my opinion, is grilling. Cooking food over an open fire in the outdoors creates flavors that just can’t be achieved in the indoor kitchen. It’s funny – on almost every weekend in the summer, you can smell the grills going in our neighborhood from late afternoon into the evening. Everybody loves grilled food.
Now, you might call it “barbecuing,” but not in the South. In the South we don’t “barbecue.” We grill or cookout. To a Southerner, the term “barbecue” means any food to which a barbecue sauce has been applied. Said food may or may not have been cooked outdoors over an open fire. If it was, then it’s grilled whether or not a barbecue sauce was involved. Confused? Sorry.
This delicious Rosemary and Lemon Spatchcocked Chicken is not barbecued. It is most definitely grilled. It’s a butterflied chicken that has been marinated in a mixture of olive oil, rosemary, lemon, salt and pepper and cooked under a weight on an outdoor grill. Not barbecued. It makes for an easy and delicious summer supper. I won’t go into the difference between dinner and supper in the South. I’ve already confused you enough as it is.
Spatchcock the chicken. To spatchcock a chicken, you start by removing the backbone. Use a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp, heavy knife to cut down either side of the backbone. Turn the chicken over and press down on the upper breast area until the bones crack and the chicken is flattened. I know this sounds a bit gruesome so if you want, you can ask your butcher to do this part for you. Though really, it’s not as difficult as it may seem. The last step is to make a shallow cut between the leg and thigh. Why? Well, that’s usually the last part to cook through and making a little cut there will help the dark pieces to cook at about the same time as the lighter pieces. You’ll have nicely done chicken without dry white meat – a little trick I picked up from Jacques Pepin on an old episode of Julia and Jacques.
Next, make the marinade. I just mix it right in the bag I’m going to use. No need to dirty another bowl, right? I do put the bag into a bowl so it’s easier to contain while measuring in the ingredients. Just toss in the rosemary, olive oil, juice and rinds of the lemons, salt, and pepper.
Add the chicken. Turn it several times so that every part is well coated with the marinade. Refrigerate it for 4 hours, or up to overnight.
When ready to grill, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Prepare either a charcoal or gas grill for indirect cooking. Indirect cooking is when you place the hot coals (or lighted burners) on one side of the grill and food on the other, or cool, side of the grill. That way the chicken fat and olive oil doesn’t drip directly into the hot coals and flare-ups are reduced to a minimum.
Make sure the grill grate is well oiled and place the chicken skin side up on the cool side of the grill. Top it with a brick wrapped in foil for weight. You could also use a heavy cast iron skillet. You just want something to weight the chicken down and press it flat while it’s cooking.
Cook for about 25 minutes. Turn the chicken over, replace the brick and cook for an additional 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160F. Remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes. Serve with additional lemon slices if desired.
Something that makes any kind of cooking – indoors or outdoors – easier is having the right tools for the job. The generous people at OXO recently sent me a few new things to try out. There’s a salad shaker, a corn stripper, meat tenderizer, basting brush, and a pair of extra long tongs. Those really came in handy turning that chicken on the grill!
- 1 chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
- 2-3 springs fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- Prepare the chicken by removing the backbone. Cut down both sides through the ribs using kitchen shears or a sharp, heavy knife. Turn the chicken over and press down on the upper breast area until the bones crack and the chicken is flattened. Make a cut between the leg and thigh to promote even cooking.
- In a large re-sealable bag, combine the rosemary, olive oil, juice and rinds of the lemons, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken, turning to coat well. Refrigerate for 4 hours, or up to overnight.
- When ready to grill, remove the chicken from the refrigerator to come to room temperature. Prepare either a charcoal or gas grill for indirect cooking. Place the chicken skin side up on the cool side of the grill. Top it with a brick wrapped in foil for weight. Cook for 25 minutes. Turn the chicken over, replace the brick and cook for an additional 25 minutes or until an internal temperature of 160 is reached.
- Remove the chicken from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with additional lemon slices if desired.
Additional time of 4-8 hours required for marinating.
Recipe inspired by an episode of Extra Virgin on The Cooking Channel.
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More grilled chicken recipes you might enjoy from around the internet:
- My Sister’s Phenomenal Grilled Green Chicken from Nom Nom Paleo
- Grilled Chicken with Tarragon Mustard Marinade from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Chipotle Lime Grilled Chicken from All Day I Dream About Food
- Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers from Foodie Crush
- Southwestern Grilled Chicken with Lime Butter from She Wears Many Hats
What I was up to..
- One Year Ago: Gazpacho and Garlic Shrimp with Cheese Toasts
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- Four Years Ago: Forgotten Cookies
- Five Years Ago: Turkey Burgers