Sunday, September 14, 2014

Grilled Butterflied Chicken

This grilled chicken method is part Julia Child, Bobby Flay and Cook's Illustrated.  I've taken a little but of advice, technique and instruction from each of them. 

I also like to brine the chicken when grilling it; whether whole or parts.  It leaves your chicken so juicy.

To 8 cups of water, add 1 cup of Kosher salt

1/2 cup of sugar

 a whole bulb of garlic, halved and, if you like, about 10 peppercorns

Bring to a boil, whisking the mixture ever so often to help dissolve the salt and sugar.  Remove from heat and allow to cool. 
Good to know if you want to save some time:  Bobby Flay uses half the water but adds 4 cups of ice cubes after the salt and sugar are dissolved.  This helps cool the brine quicker.

Now, you want to butterfly your chicken, which means you are going to splay your chicken out flat.  Grilling chicken this way cuts your cooking time and the cooking is more even between the dark meat and the white meat.

 The first thing you want to do is cut out the back bone of the chicken.  To do this you will need a good pair of kitchen shears.  I found these scissors at an estate sale.  The markings show that they are stainless steel made in Italy.  I don't really know for sure if they were made to be used in the kitchen; but I'll tell ya, they are heavy duty.  To me, they look like something that is used in the operating room.

Turn the chicken breast side down.  Begin cutting up one side of the back bone.

 Cut up the other side and remove the backbone.  Freeze this to use in a future broth.

I did not do this step today, but if you want to, make a slice down the middle of the white breast bone that is exposed.  It will make it a little easier for you to break the breast bone in the next step.

Flip your bird over, breast side up.   Now, give the breast bone a good whack to break it and some of the ribs; you want to flatten it out.

Just a couple more things to do before you're done.

 See these little tips on the elbow of the wing?  Clip those off and tuck the wing underneath the chicken.

 There's a lot of loose skin between the leg and the breast.  With a paring knife make a slit in the skin

Tuck the end of the leg through this slit.  Repeat with the other leg

 And there you have a butterflied chicken.  You also might hear of this method referred to as spatchcocking a chicken.  It is really so simple and after you do it once, it will seem so elementary and is such a great way to grill, or even roast in the oven, a whole chicken.

Once the brine is cooled off place the chicken in a large bowl or baggie and pour the brine over the chicken.  Place in the refrigerator from 1 to 4 hours.

While the chicken is in its brine mince your garlic and mix with the butter.  Both are the same but one you will keep room temperature until it's time to melt and the other you'll place in the refrigerator.

 NOTE:  If you elect to brine, be sure you use unsalted butter.  You will not need the extra butter.  If you don't brine, use salted butter.

After brining period is over, rinse the chicken well under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.  Place the chicken on a rack over a baking sheet ( used a broiler pan) and place uncovered in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 hours to dry the skin out.

 set the chilled chicken on the cabinet at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.  Spread the chilled garlic butter underneath the skin over the breast.

Preheat your grill.

Melt the other portion of the garlic butter and brush over the breast side of the chicken. 

Place the chicken, buttered breast side down.  I place two foil covered bricks on top of the chicken just to discourage any bowing or folding up the edges might want to do.

 After 10 minutes turn the chicken over and place over the indirect heat.  Cover the grill and allow to finish cooking until a thermometer registers 165 degrees F. (about 30 minutes)

Place on serving platter, light tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Grilled Butterflied Chicken
Serves 4


8 cups water
1 cup Kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 head garlic
10 black peppercorns
 1 - 3-4 pound roasting chicken
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, divided

In a saucepan mix water, salt and 1/2 cup sugar.  Cut the head of garlic in half and add to the brine water, along with the peppercorns.  Heat mixture, whisking until salt and sugar are dissolved.  Remove from heat, set aside and allow to cool completely

To butterfly chicken turn chicken breast side down.  With a good pair of kitchen / poultry shears cut down one side of the back bone and then cut down the other side, removing backbone (bag it and throw in freezer to use in a future stock).  Turn chicken breast side up and pound the breast bone with your fist to break the collar bones and some of the ribs.  Get aggressive with it; you want that chicken flattened.  Cut off the little tips on the wings' elbows.  Tuck the wings behind the shoulders.  With a sharp paring knife make a slit in the skin that is on the sides of the breast.  Take a leg in your hand, slightly push the leg up towards the thigh and insert and ankle of the leg through the slit.  Pull down to secure.  Repeat with the other leg.

When the brine is cool pour in a large bowl or plastic bag then place the chicken in the brine.  Refrigerate from 1 to 4 hours.

Peel and dice the cloves of garlic.  Mix 2 Tbsp. of the room temperature butter in a small bowl and place the other 2 Tbsp. of butter in another bowl.  Mix half of the cloves with 2 Tbsp. butter.  Cover and place in refrigerator.  Mix the rest of the diced garlic with the last two Tbsp. butter.  You can leave this set aside on the cabinet top.

After the chicken is finished brining, rinse the chicken under cold water and pat the chicken dry.  Discard the brine.  Place chicken, skin side up on a cooling rack that is set inside a baking sheet.  Allow to sit uncovered in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 hours to allow the skin to dry out.  You will get a crispier crust this way.

Remove chicken and compound butter from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to putting it on the grill.  When the butter begins to soften, gently separate the skin from the breast and spread the chilled butter/garlic compound underneath the skin being careful not to tear the skin.

Melt the other butter/garlic compound in the microwave until you hear the garlic begin to sizzling and brown.

Heat all  burners for medium direct heat for about 15 minutes.

Brush the skin side of the chicken with1/2 of  the melted butter/garlic.  Place chicken, breast side down over the two left burners until brown and crispy; about 10 minutes.  Turn the far right burner off and place the chicken, breast side up, on this burner to finish cooking on indirect heat.  Brush the chicken with the rest of the melted butter/garlic.  Cover grill and cook for about 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh.

Place chicken to carving platter and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

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