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Spatchcock Chicken on the Grill


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I love summer weekend dinners, when everyone reconvenes in the kitchen, freshly showered after a long day of activites, and dinner becomes a collaborative process. I think this is in part because the abundance of fresh ingredients require less complicated cooking but it is also because of the grill which (if we are honest here) brings the boys into the cooking equation but more importantly it is outside, usually on a nice porch or back yard so once all the prep and side cooking has been done, everyone can sit around on the porch while the designated grillers cook. I mean it doesn’t get any better. Well, until you are eating this chicken because it is so darn good.

Spatchcock Chicken on the grill has become a staple summer dish in my fam since we started making it about 5 years ago. I remember the first time I called Iacono (the awesome family farm we like to get our chicken from) requesting that they please be spatchcocked – to which the elderly lady on the other end blurted out “you wanna do whaaaat!?” “ummmm butterfly them?” “oh. well yeah. thats easy. why didn’t you say that in the first place?”. Note taken. We are practically bffs now since we have literally made this once a weekend since Memorial Day (literally).

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At the beginning of the summer my brother got a lesson from Spatchcock Master Chris – who is in semi-retirement now that I know how to properly ask for it at Iacono but he still gets to show off his skillz every now and then.

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Spatchcock Chicken on the Grill
Spatchcock Chicken on the Grill

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Spatchcock Chicken on the Grill

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How to Spatchcock (or Butterfly) a Chicken:

All you really have to do here is remove the backbone. Its best if you have kitchen shears (as opposed to scissors) but if not you will just need strong hands!

Cut along either side of the back bone. To flatten the chicken, place breast side up and press firmly in between the breasts (you might need to use your body weight if its a bigger bird).

Spatchcock Chicken on the Grill

Brining Chicken:

If you have never brined your chicken before get ready for this to change your life. And while it may seem like just an extra step that requires forethought, once you start doing it, it becomes automatic – and it takes like 5 minutes so just do and be happy about it.

Brining is a salt/sugar solution (much like a marinade) hydrates and tenderizes the meat. The amount of time depends on whether its a whole bird or just pieces – ive listed everything below but just know its all pretty flexible so if you only have 30 minutes to brine well then brine for 30 minutes.

To make the brine simply dissolve the salt and sugar in the water. The amount of brine to make simply depends on how much chicken you have.

 

Brining Ratio

1 cup salt + 1 cups sugar + 12 cups water

 

How long to Brine:

Whole birds: 4-6 hours

Pieces: 2-3 hours

 
Spatchcock Chicken on the Grill
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Spatchcock Chicken on the Grill

Ingredients

  1. whole chickens, backbones removed

  2. fresh woody herbs like rosemary and sage

  3. salt and pepper

for the brine (this is mandatory b/c it will change your life)

  1. ½ cup fine salt

  2. ½ cup sugar

  3. 6-8 cups water

Instructions

  1. Brine the chicken (see notes + instructions above).

  2. Preheat grill - you want two zones, a hot side (burner on high) and a cooler side (burner on med-low).

  3. Remove chicken from the brine and pat completely dry with paper towels. Stuff herbs under the skin (optional) then generously salt and pepper the skin.

  4. Place chicken on the cooler side of the grill, skin side up and cook, with the lid closed to start but its ok to check it often and just keep the lid up as you get ready to flip.

Cooking times on cool side - these are general, if you are unsure it is best to have an instant read thermometer your goal is to get between 125˚ - 145˚F before flipping.

< 2 lbs (Cornish Game Hens): 10-15 minutes

2-3 lbs (Roasters and Boilers): 20-30 minutes

  1. Flip the chicken to skin side down on the hot side of the grill to crisp the skin and finish cooking. You are looking to get to 160˚F (carry-over cooking will bring it to the req 165˚).

  2. Let chicken rest about 10 minutes before serving.

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