Let’s just draw a line in the sand now and boldly state that there is no “grilling season.” Spring, summer, fall (winter?) you should get out and grill any time you crave the outdoors and the delicious, smokey flavors of freshly barbecued meats and veggies.
Exploring new ways to grill your favorite dishes is part of the experience. Recently, we’ve been throwing a whole chicken on the grill and enjoying the juicy flavors alongside crispy, spicy skin. Grilling an entire chicken is easy, but there are tips and tricks to help you get the best result. Check out this basic grilled chicken recipe and our recommendations for getting it just right, then grab a bottle of American Barrel Aged Chardonnay and dinner al fresco is served!
The method for grilling a chicken is fairly simple: Light the grill (or coals), heat to approximately 400 degree F. Place the bird on the middle of the grill, skin-side up, close the lid and allow to cook for approximately 45 minutes to one hour (depending on size). Then, check the bird every 5-10 minutes until done.
As they say, the devil is in the details. Below, a few tips:
Spatchcock – This is the method of butterflying (or flattening) the chicken before grilling. If you grill the chicken whole without flattening it, you may get some uneven cooking and dry out the breast. To do this, remove the backbone and then break the breastbone by pressing down on the legs. Some supermarkets sell whole chickens already spatchcocked, and a butcher can usually do this for you.
Oil! – The secret to crispy, delicious chicken skin is oiling it well. We recommend using an oil-based marinade or brushing on a generous amount of olive oil before cooking. You can also soak a paper towel in olive oil and then, using a pair of long metal tongs, brush it directly on the almost-ready grill before adding the chicken.
Go Bold – We’ve already mentioned the chicken skin in this dish, but it really is the star of the show. Your chicken will be even more flavorful if you add bold seasonings, rubs or sauces to the skin prior to cooking. You can add a spicy dry rub after brushing olive oil onto the skin, create a marinade and add a little liquid smoke, or brush on your favorite barbecue sauce a few minutes prior to removing from the grill. The bolder the better!
Use indirect heat – Juicy chicken takes time to roast, so you don’t want it placed directly over a heat source. If you have a gas grill, turn on all burners except the one directly under the bird. On a charcoal grill, you can either use a water bath in the center and arrange coals around it (this also helps keep the bird moist) or layer more coals on one side of the grill than the other, creating a “hot” side and a “cool” side. Place the chicken breast-down on the hot side first, removing after a few minutes and then place skin-side up on the cooler side to cook through.
A meat thermometer is always a good idea so you can check doneness without over-cooking.