In our house, it’s never too late to grill. Unless there’s two feet of snow on the ground, a miserable downpour, or a bitter wind, I’ve got at least a couple grill meals on rotation each week.
One of my absolute favorites is grilled chicken pieces. I’m a crispy skin person to the point that I might even like it more than bacon (I’ve even made pseudo-BLTs with it). When it comes to chicken, the grill is the ultimate way to ensure lots of crunchy, flavorful, crispy skin on all sides. But there’s a downside: you can’t get grilled chicken pieces to the table as quickly as a charred steak or chop, so it often takes more planning ahead if we want it for dinner. Chicken also needs to be moved around constantly on the grill to avoid flare-ups and achieve even cooking.
Thankfully, there’s a real (and absolutely awesome) solution that guarantees the utmost amount of succulent skin and a cook time that’s almost as fast as steak. Plus it looks cool and kind of complicated, which always wows guests. And best of all, this solution is surprisingly, incredibly simple. All you need is a touch of patience and a sharp little knife.
Enter the butterflied chicken!
Butterflied chicken is an entire bird with the wings and all of the bones removed. The result is a consistently thick piece of meat with an entire side covered in luscious skin. This method provides reliably even cooking and uniform seasoning throughout the meat. It makes the most of everyone’s favorite, crunchy skin, and is a dream to cut at the table!
In the following dish, a fresh, bright herb sauce balances out the juicy meat. If possible, make the sauce at the last minute for the freshest flavor. Leftovers, drizzled with the vinaigrette, make excellent sandwiches or salad toppers.
Grilled Butterflied Chicken with Herb Vinaigrette
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
For the chicken:
1 whole chicken (about 4 lbs.)
Salt, pepper, lemon pepper, granulated garlic, oregano, and/or other seasonings of your choice
For the vinaigrette:
1 large bunch parsley
1 clove garlic
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
- Butterfly the chicken: place chicken breast side up on cutting board. To remove breast from carcass, cut along the breast bone as close to the carcass as possible. Be careful to keep skin intact so breast stays attached to the leg. Slide knife under thigh to separate from carcass, flip bird over, and remove entire leg (with breast and skin attached) from the back. You should be left with half a bird: breast, thigh, and drumstick. Repeat with the other side of the bird so you have two halves.
- Place one half skin side down on cutting board. Cut along and around the thigh bone with the tip of your knife, easing meat away from the bone. Then cut a long slit down from the joint along the bone of the drumstick. Slice through skin and meat by cutting around the tip of the drumstick. Using the tip of your knife, ease meat away from the bones, cutting parallel to the bones. Remove entire leg bone (thigh and drumstick) in one piece. It will be hinged at the joint. Repeat with remaining half of bird.
- Rub flattened bird halves with olive oil. Season liberally with salt, pepper, spices, and herbs of your choice. Leave at room temperature while grill preheats.
- Preheat grill to medium-high. Grill chicken skin side down until deeply browned, about 10–15 minutes. Flip and continue grilling the other side until chicken is just cooked through, about 5–10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5–10 minutes.
- At the last minute, make vinaigrette: Place all ingredients in food processor and process until blended and smooth. Thin out with additional water if necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings. To serve, cut chicken into serving pieces and drizzle with vinaigrette.
Images from: Brianna Goodall (main image, iStock/111chemodan111 (chicken).