Flattening a whole chicken by cutting out the backbone and flattening it a bit makes it cook more quickly. I’ve done this before, with a recipe from Jacques Pepin that was browned on the stove and then finished in the oven. Tonight I did the same technique, but just rubbed some salt, pepper, granulated garlic and onion powder into the chicken, then grilled it. It was up into the high 60’s today and almost felt like summer so I wanted to grill! I roasted some potatoes and made a salad while the chicken was cooking. I served with some barbecue sauce at the table for those that wanted it.
Split Barbecued Chicken Under a Brick
Lay a whole chicken breast-side down and cut out the backbone with kitchen shears or a really sharp knife. Save for making chicken broth. Cut the tips of the wings off as well and add to your stock pot (or freeze for later). Cut a 1/2″ slit in between the chicken legs and thighs to even out the cooking of the dark meat. Cut right between the breasts and push down to flatten out the chicken to an even height all around. Sprinkle with whatever seasonings you’d like. You could go for simple with salt and pepper. Or add seasoned salt or garlic salt, some seasoned pepper, or whatever spice mix suits your fancy. Creole? Satay?
This is often called chicken under a brick. I didn’t feel like walking around the yard to find an old brick (which I do have laying around!) so I used an old cast iron skillet on top of an oiled baking pan to weigh the chicken down.
I have a gas grill. You want to cook over indirect heat the first 35 minutes or so. I lit all 3 burners to preheat, cleaned the grill once it got hot, and then turned off 2 of the burners, putting the chicken skin side down over the unlit two burners. Oil the bottom of the baking sheet and put it on top of the flattened chicken, then lay the brick or cast iron skillet or rock or whatever on the baking sheet. Cook covered about 35 minutes or so.
Take the brick/pan and baking sheet off (and I suddenly realized you need you need a place to set down some really hot things where the animals won’t get curious!). The chicken should be seared enough that the skin doesn’t stick to the grill much but use a wide metal spatula to loosen it up and move it over the heated part of your grill. Cover and cook another 10-15 minutes. I flipped mine over the last 5 minutes just to cook the other side.
Let it rest on a cutting board, covered with foil for 10 minutes or so, then cut into serving pieces that makes sense for your family. (I often cut the breasts in half because none of us will eat a whole half a chicken breast at one meal.) Legs, thighs, breasts, wings or cut the wings with a bit more meat onto them to make it a serving.
Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. The larger the chunks, the longer they will take to cook. The smaller the chunks, the more crispy bits you will have. So cut according to how your family likes potatoes and what else is going on at dinner. (In a hurry? Cut into smaller pieces! Have extra time now, cut into larger pieces and bake longer!) Likewise with the temperature. Lower equals slower. Lower and larger equals slowest. Smallest and higher equals fastest. I cut these into 1/2″ pieces and cooked at 400F while the chicken cooked, stirring once or twice. They seemed to be done about when I moved the chicken onto direct heat so I turned the oven down after flipping the potatoes around and just let them finish at warm..
Tossed Green Salad
I am in love with a simple tossed green salad these days. I cut up the lettuce (or use a spring mix), add some chopped vegetables, whatever I feel in the mood for. Tonight I added chopped plum tomatoes, carrots, celery and red pepper. Add some cheese or salami for a main meal or leave it out for a dinner salad, add some cooked beans maybe, then toss with olive oil until lightly coated. Just drizzle on a bit, toss the lettuce, see if it seems coated and add some more and toss again if needed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I currently love Lawry’s seasoned pepper for stuff like this), then pour on a bit of your favorite vinegar or lemon juice, toss and taste and add more of what ever is needed. I have two lemon trees so am using lemon juice mostly these days and I love the lighter taste of it. But use cider vinegar, white or red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar if you prefer. That’s it! It seems to work much better to me this way rather than mixing up a dressing and pouring it on. But that works too.
We, of course, have leftover chicken as there are only 3 of us. I’m planning on Chinese Chicken Salad with some of the leftovers for dinner another night, depending on how much gets eaten for various lunches before that.