A good friend and I used to joke that a big red flag when dating someone was if they always ordered chicken. It’s not that chicken is bad, per se, it’s just, so…meh. It’s great in curries and other saucy dishes, and I love a good Peruvian rotisserie (in no small part because I can get yucca and/or plantains with my crispy-skinned chicken), but, I tend not to get too excited about the prospect of “grilled chicken.” Often overcooked and dry, sometimes rubbery, I generally think of grilled chicken as “the inoffensive thing you chop up and put on salads as a protein source” and not so much as the source of deliciousness. I tend to stick with grilling pork chops, burgers, or steaks, and leave my chickens for roasting or crock pots. Thanks to Bobby Flay, my views on grilled chicken have been forever changed.
Now, this is no limp chicken breast with grill marks on it, this was the whole dang bird. Moreover, we have the good fortune of having a neighbor who recently started raising chickens (for meat), so, to my knowledge, this was my first-ever freshly slaughtered, never frozen, pastured chicken. While the marinade took a little prep time with the knife, the end product was better than any of the oven/rotisserie/crockpot-roasted chickens I have made…ever. So, grab your kitchen shears and a knife, fire up your grill, and get ready to make some chicken.
- 1 whole chicken (~3#), butterflied (see step 1)
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 2 T. plus 1 t. finely chopped fresh garlic, mashed into a paste with some salt
- 2 T. plus 1 t. finely chopped fresh thyme
- 2 T. grated lemon zest
- 1 T. chopped onion
- pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper
- Place your chicken breast side down. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove. Place the chicken in a large baking dish. (save the backbone for chicken stock making!)
- Combine the oil, 2 T. of the garlic, 2 T. of the thyme, 1 T. of the lemon zest, and the onion. Pour over the chicken and coat fully. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-8 hours. [I did about 4 hrs]
- Preheat the grill to medium. Remove the chicken from marinade and season with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken, skin side down, until skin becomes golden brown and crisp [took me about 20 min – I closed the cover. Also, don’t panic if the flames leap up a little when the olive oil drips down]. Turn the chicken over, close the cover, and continue grilling until just cooked through, about 20 more minutes [I did 18 or so here]. Remove from the grill, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes before cutting.
- Mix together remaining garlic, thyme, and lemon zest, and sprinkle over the chicken [pre- or post-cutting…you choose!]
5. ENJOY! We ate it with cumin/cinnamon/cayenne spiced sweet potato rounds and a mixed green salad.