Do you have plans to fire up the grill on Labor Day? One of my favorite grilling recipes is butterflied, lemon-marinated, grilled chicken. It's a real crowd-pleaser.
Grilling chicken this way is super-easy and tastes terrific. The only difficult part is the technique of butterflying the chicken. But, once you've done it, you'll find that it's simple, too.
Butterflying a whole chicken requires removing the backbone from neck to tail with poultry shears or a knife, then flattening the chicken out by breaking the breast bones. It's pretty easy to do, and the butterflied chicken cooks much more evenly than a regular, whole chicken would. To see video instructions on how to butterfly a chicken, click here
This recipe calls for a marinade of lemon, garlic, shallots and herbs. It's really versatile, and you could easily substitute other herbs (such as thyme, tarragon, etc.) for the rosemary suggested here. You could also add a splash of white or Rose wine to the marinade, as well. And, if you want to kick the spices up a notch for 4th of July fireworks, add a teaspoon of chili pepper flakes or chili powder to the marinade.
Speaking of Rose wine, it makes a really good partner for this grilled chicken.
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 Tbs. minced shallot
2 Tbs. fresh rosemary leaves, minced
juice of 1 lemon
zest from 1 lemon, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red-chili flakes
1 whole 3-4 lb. chicken, butterflied
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place the olive oil, garlic, shallot, rosemary, chilies, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large baking dish or Zip-Loc plastic bag.
Whisk the marinade ingredients together thoroughly.
Place the chicken in the marinade, turning to coat both sides. Then put the chicken and marinade in the refrigerator for at least two, and up to eight, hours for the marinade to penetrate and flavor the chicken.
Heat a grill to medium heat.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and season well on both sides with salt and pepper.
Place the chicken on the grill, skin-side down, and grill slowly with the grill cover closed until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Watch for flare-ups!
Turn the chicken over and continue to cook another 15-20 minutes with the cover closed until the chicken is done and nicely crisp and browned on both sides. Undoubtedly, there will be flare-ups and the chicken skin might burn in spots. Keep a spray bottle filled with water handy to extinguish flare-ups.
Remove the chicken from the grill and allow to sit for about 10 minutes covered with foil before cutting.
Cut the chicken in half or into pieces and serve with your favorite sides.
Photos by Ted Scheffler