"Necessity is the mother of invention"
Butterflied chicken is not my favorite way to cook a chicken. Convection roasting is actually my favorite way to cook a chicken. But in July of 2012, which was the hottest July on record in Minnesota, Butterflied Chicken became a necessity. Bear with me while I explain.
Every day in July, we had a high temperature above 80º. We had a bucketload of days that were above 100º. Even with the air conditioning on, it became a challenge to keep the house cool. The last thing I'm going to do is fire up an oven to roast a chicken and raise the temperature in the house. So July of 2012 saw a record number of days in which I cooked our meals on our Weber Performer.
Now it's easy enough to roast a chicken on a charcoal grill. You just need 110 minutes of free time...20 minutes to get the charcoal going and 90 minutes to roast the chicken on indirect heat. The problem is, I am "pattern man" and I only have 60 minutes to get dinner on the table at precisely 6:00 pm each weekday evening. The reason I only have 60 minutes is that me and my video gaming peeps hook up for 2 hours of killing every day from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. That leaves me just 60 minutes to prepare dinner.
So during July of 2012, my family was missing the taste of roast chicken. So, by necessity, I searched out a way to cook a whole chicken on a grill in less than 60 minutes. Thanks to Cook's Illustrated, the answer was quite simple...Butterflied Chicken. You simply cut the backbone out of the chicken and flatten the bird. Check this out:
Once you've flattened the bird, it cooks directly over the coals in just 30 minutes...15 minutes per side. But because we are cooking over direct heat, the bird will dry out if cooked au naturel. That's easy to remedy...brining the bird for 2 to 4 hours prior to grilling solves that problem. This is a fast and easy way to cook a whole chicken in less than an hour and it serves four.
1 whole chicken, 3 pounds
6 tablespoons salt
6 tablespoons sugar
Fresh ground black pepper
- Dissolve salt and sugar in 1 quart cold water in 2-gallon zipper-lock plastic bag. Add chicken; press out as much air as possible from bag and seal. Refrigerate until fully seasoned, at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.
- Light large chimney starter filled 3/4 full with charcoal (4 1/ 2 quarts should be about 75 briquettes); let burn until all charcoal is covered with layer of fine gray ash. Build single-level fire by spreading coals evenly over bottom of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and heat until grate is hot, about 5 minutes. Use grill brush to scrape cooking grate clean. Grill is ready when coals are medium-hot.
- Meanwhile, remove chicken from brine, dry thoroughly with paper towels and season with pepper to taste.
- Place chicken, bone-side down, on grill rack. Set rimmed baking sheet or large pan on top of chicken; put 2 bricks in pan. Grill until chicken is deep brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken skin-side down. Replace sheet pan and bricks, and continue cooking 12 to 15 minutes more.
- Remove chicken from grill, then cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve and serve.
Wine pairing: Pinot Noir or Syrah
Here are me and my peeps taking out the enemy.