Monday, June 7, 2010

How To Roast a Chicken on the Grill

This post was originally going to be recipe for a strawberry tart (to be posted soon). We were having a roast chicken for dinner (2, to be exact), and I just didn't want to write about another roast chicken. Sure, they were stuffed with fresh herbs and garlic and covered with kosher salt and herbes de Provence. Yes, they were sitting on a bed of onion wedges that would caramelize and absorb all the delicious chicken fat. But really, haven't we all read 25 other recipes like this?

A fresh strawberry tart seemed far more interesting and provocative, that is, until the power went out 15 minutes after the chickens went into the oven. Instead of waiting for the power to return, my dad and I fired up the gas grill. Grilled chicken pieces are a standard around here, but we had yet to roast one whole. The key to grilling chicken pieces is to keep the heat very very low so that the meat can cook through without drying out or the skin burning. That, and keeping the lid closed to keep the heat in. We decided to try this technique to finish "roasting" the birds.

We put the chickens on the grill skin side up, and left them for about 35 minutes. Right before we flipped them over, we put the onions on the grill, atop a piece of foil. We also threw on some corn wrapped in foil.

We let the chickens grill for about 65-70 minutes total, until they were cooked through. We checked by cutting between the leg and the breast and checking for pink juices. By the end, their skin had become slightly charred, but very crispy. It had fallen off in the areas directly on the grill, but plenty was left on the rest of the birds.

The onions had cooked down, but not as much as we had hoped. Putting them on earlier might have helped. We let the birds rest for a few minutes, then carved and served.

It certainly had a different from a traditional roast chicken, a little more smoky and burnt, but it was just as juicy and succulent. It was a perfect summer version of a what I consider a cold-weather dish. We definitely will be making this again, electricity or not.

Whole Chickens on the Grill

1 3-4 lb. chicken, preferably free range
Kosher salt
A bunch of fresh herbs (we used thyme and oregano)
A head of garlic
Herbes de Provence
1 cooking onion cut into wedges (optional- as a variation, you could also throw in some sliced potatoes or carrots)
Olive oil

1. Clean the bird. Sprinkle the inside with salt. Cut the head of garlic in half, and stuff it in the cavity along with the fresh herbs. Cover the outside with salt, pepper and herbes de Provence.

2. Put the chicken on a preheated grill set on low, skin side up. Cover and leave for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, put the onions on foil, drizzle with olive oil and salt and place on the grill.

3. Flip the chicken when the bottom is very browned. Keep cooking for at least another 20-30 minutes, depending upon the size. Flip back over. Cook until done. (Cooking time will vary from what was explained here as we started our chicken in the oven).

4. Remove from the grill along with the onions, rest for 5-10 minutes, cut and serve.

Note: This technique would work with most roast chicken recipes, you needn't stick to what spices and seasonings used here. It would also probably benefit from some oil brushed on the grill to prevent the skin from sticking.

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