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Grilled and Butterflied Chicken

Like I said earlier, I’m not the grillmaster in our house. That title belongs to my husband. However, I do enjoy coming up with interesting things for him to grill.

We really like doing roast chicken during the winter. One chicken will get us about two meals, plus 6-8 cups of rich, homemade chicken broth. But it’s way too hot during the summer (well, usually) to think about turning on the oven for the length of time it takes to cook a chicken.

So when I wandered across an episode of Good Eats in which Alton butterflies a chicken, I was intrigued. The concept is simple: instead of leaving the chicken all “bunched up” (you know, looking like a regular chicken), you could speed up the cooking process by “spreading out” the chicken so that the heat was more evenly distributed.

A little Googling found me a video that explained very clearly how to make a chicken lay flat (even better than Alton’s explanation. Whoa!). A word of warning about the video: it’s not for the vegetarian. You are doing a bit of custom butchering on your bird, and that involves crunching kitchen scissors through bones.

(Man, he makes it look easy. I always forget that part about cutting through the gristle at the top of the keel bone.)

Anyway, once you have the chicken flattened, it becomes a dream to grill. Now, our experience with the chickens had a fair amount of trial and error in it. Our biggest lesson is evident in this photo.

Butterflied Chicken

This bird? Tasted awesome, but it was a bit charred. The grease from the bird caused some flare-ups. After a trying a few different things, my husband eventually hit on using a lower temperature (increasing the cooking time a bit), and using a syringe filled with water to knock down any flare-ups. We’ve ended up with one perfect bird so far: perfectly crisped skin that isn’t burn, and moist, juicy meat. Unfortunately we were hungry that night, so I didn’t get a photo.

Butterflied chicken, ready to grill

What you put under the skin is really up to you, but we have found a favourite.

What you’ll need:
* olive oil
* salt
* coarse ground pepper
* 2 tsp dried rosemary
* 1 or 2 cloves minced garlic
* one chicken (3-4 pounds is good for two meals for two people.)

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, the rosemary and garlic. Add enough olive oil to form a nice paste. Set aside.

Prepare the chicken. Remove the back and keel bone, and lay flat. Salt the inside of the bird and rub with olive oil.

Loosen the skin over the breasts and thighs. Spoon the rosemary mixture under the skin. Sprinkle the skin with salt and rub with olive oil. Massage the rosemary mixture around under the skin with your finger tips.

Heat grill to 325-350°F. Carefully lay the chicken on the grill, skin-side down. Cook for 20 minutes. Use a syringe (or a baster) filled with water to knock down any flare-ups from dripping oil or fat.

Using two wads of paper towels, grab the legs and flip the bird skin-side up. Be prepared for flare-ups! Cook for another 20 minutes.

Using a tip-sensitive thermometer, check that the chicken has reached 160°F in the breast and 170°F in the thigh. Remove the chicken from the grill, cover with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. (The internal temperature should rise to 165°F in that time.)

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