You all know how much I love to roast chickens. It's easy and delicious and it seems like I constantly am doing it, doesn't it? In the summer, it's fun to move from roasting a whole chicken indoors in the oven to grilling a whole spatchcocked chicken outside. Beyond the obvious advantages of not heating up your whole apartment and setting off your fire alarm (even if you do have your own personal medical professional to fan the smoke away), a whole chicken on the grill just tastes amazing--juicy, moist and full of smokey delicious flavor. Best of all it is so so easy and still manages to look impressive for dinner. The only even slightly tricky thing you have to do is to spatchcock the bird first. What does that mean? Well, I took a bunch of pictures so I could make the preparation process seem more clear.
Get your whole chicken and a pair of poultry shears. Lay your bird out with the backbone facing up and cut into the back, along both sides of the backbone and remove it. There! That's the hardest part and you'll find it is quite easy. When the backbone is removed, flatten the bird with your hand--it will squish flat quite easily.
Here's what I additionally do to make it easier to flip on the grill: on the other side of the chicken, cut a slit in the skin between the thigh and the chicken's ass And tuck the end of the drumstick in to keep it packed up. Do the same to the other side. Tuck the wings under so they won't burn. Now your chicken is spatchcocked! Drizzle it on both sides with a healthy 3 tablespoons or so of olive oil, and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Now put the chicken on the grill over medium-high coals and let it go for 45 minutes or so. Mostly cover it to keep all your smoke going, especially if you use aromatic hardwood charcoal, which I vastly prefer to the chemical-soaked briquettes. Keep a good eye on it and flip the bird every now and then to keep it evenly browning. If you want to, you can do what I did and brush on a simple glaze in the last 15 minutes of grilling. I mixed a few tablespoons of bottled BBQ sauce with the juice from 1/2 a lime, salt, pepper and a couple of splashes from the glass of chardonnay that I was drinking. If you don't have any BBQ sauce handy, you can use tomato paste or even ketchup. Try adding tamari and brown sugar for a variation (leave out the salt then). Brush the glaze over your chicken, let it grill for 5 minutes, then turn it over and brush the other side, then leave it for 5 minutes. Turn it over again and brush it lightly one more time and 5 minutes later, you are all done. With a glaze-shiny, perfectly juicy, spatchcocked chicken! And you barely did any work at all, hotshot.
Note: One chicken works great for 2 people, with a few leftovers. If you have a bunch of people coming over, just multiply it out with as many more chickens that you'll need and have room on your grill for. It is an easy and delicious grill option for a dinner party that also makes you look like you know how to cook.