Whole Chicken on the Grill – Butterflied and Marinated

There’s something about the outdoor grill that just makes me smile.

I love grilling. Love the challenge, love the taste, love the smell. Leaves falling and cooler breezes from the north make me even more excited to get out there and enjoy the weather while I cook whenever I can.

This summer I decided to take my oven roasted chicken outside. There are only so many ways you can roast whole chicken in the oven and I was finding my options along that line weren’t exciting me in the least. Plus, I wasn’t getting the flavor I wanted.

So, I’ve done some experimenting and have found what I think is a mighty fine way to make – and eat – chicken.

I used to think that butterflying chicken was intimidating or, at the very least, way too much work. But a good pair of kitchen scissors make this little operation a breeze.

Cut along the backbone on both sides. Just like this…

Pull the sides open, flip the bird over and press it flat. It helps to break the breast bone.

Oh! And please, please, please leave the skin on! Not only does it protect the meat from charring, but it helps retain all that juicy moisture that you most definitely want!

Now for the marinate… Honey Mustard is one of our favorites for grilled chicken.

You’ll want about one cup of marinate per whole chicken, so that’s what this recipe makes.

1/4 c. olive oil

This is freshly dried oregano from my herb garden. I’m so excited! I have lots of harvesting to do before the first freeze.

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar (or other vinegar of choice)

1/4 c. honey

1/4 c. fresh orange juice

1/8 c. Dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 t. sea salt

2 t. pepper

1 t. dried oregano

Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Place chicken in a gallon sized Ziploc bag. Add marinate and zip tight. Press flat into a casserole dish to catch any leaks, just in case.  There’s nothing like cleaning up “chicken juice” out of the refrigerator. I don’t know why I know that. I mean, I’ve never done that.

Alternately – and this method works GREAT for smaller pieces of chicken – place a heavy duty gallon sized Ziploc bag into a bowl or measuring cup and pour all ingredients into the bag. Zip closed and shake to combine. Add chicken and proceed as before.

I really like marinating meats in Ziploc bags. If you haven’t done it yet, definitely give it a try. It’s so easy to flip them over to get everything covered and just cleaner all around.

I marinated this batch for about 6 hours, but the longer you marinate the better the flavor is going to be. Marinate for 2-3 days for fabulous flavor throughout the meat. Yumma!

While we’re talking about Ziplocs I have to share a fabulous tip I found on a blog. This smart lady stores a gallon sized Ziploc bag in her freezer and every time she cuts up vegetables or has meat bones leftover, she pulls out her freezer bag and puts all the scraps in there. Following this method gives you instant stock material whenever needed and keeps waste down to a minimum.

So, you know that backbone (or two) we’ve got laying over there? Toss it into a pot with a few vegetable scraps, salt and pepper…

Top off with water and simmer away on the stove for a few hours to use with a rice, quinoa, or pasta side dish to go with the grilled chicken.

And, while we’re on one rabbit trail we may as well take another…See this beautiful orange pot?

This is a 265 dollar Le Creuset dutch oven that my sister found at a garage sale for about 30 dollars. She bought it for me along with another Le Creuset skillet that goes for 150 new for, get this – 15 dollars! The skillet looks like new. The pot has a few character-giving nicks in it and I like it that way. It looks like I used to be a little rich girl that could afford Le Creuset from France and I’ve had it forever. :D Oh, and by the way, orange is one of my favorite colors ever. Just sayin…

Okay, back to the chicken! It’s time to start grilling! Preheat the grill for about 10 minutes and prep for food. For me, that means take a wire brush and scrub away at the bits of food stuck on from the last grilling session. Our grill has three burners, so I turn them all down to low and try to keep the temperature between 350 and 400. Sometimes that means turning the middle burner off for a while.

Place the chicken on the grill, in between burners if you can.

I don’t know about you all, but posting raw meat pictures on my blog is just not up my alley. Thankfully this is the last one!

These birds are between 3-4 lbs each and it takes about 1.25 -1.5 hours to grill them. Cornish hens take 45 minutes to an hour. Let them grill on one side, with the lid shut for a good 20 minutes before disturbing. As long as the grill temperature is 300-400 they’ll be fine. After that, you can rearrange, or flip them with a strong pair of tongs if you like.

Bring the remaining marinate to a boil to baste the chickens anytime you check on them.

Try not to tear the skin when you flip them. This gets increasingly difficult as they cook, which is why I like to flip them as little as possible. I also like them to cook more on the “inside side” then the “outside side”.  The wings, of course, are that first part to get done and when the legs start feeling like they are going to fall off check the internal temperature with a thermometer. The “safe” temperature is 165-170 degrees, but remember that the meat continues to cook a bit after it’s off the heat. The breast is the last part to get done, so I mainly check the internal temperature there and in the thickest part of the leg.

And there you have it!

Enjoy alongside a serving of Toasted Israeli Couscous with Grilled Vegetables.

It’s the perfect addition since you already have the grill fired up. I’ll share that recipe with you next!

Happy Grilling!