By: Jeff Hillyard
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that grilled or smoked whole chicken are a pretty regular occurrence in my household.
My favorite way to prepare whole chicken is to spatchcock, or butterfly the bird and cook flat. By cooking flat the bird is able to cook evenly and more quickly than roasting whole.
Preparing the chicken is easy. Flip the bird over (so it’s breast side down), and locate the backbone. With a sharp pair of kitchen shares, cut out the backbone. Flip the bird back over and push down to flatten. If you hear a snap or pop, that’s just the breastbone. No biggie.
You can cook this bird either hot and fast (350°+ for about one hour), or low and slow (~250° for two hours), but I prefer the hot and fast. Nothing wrong with low and slow, but I find I am more likely to have chewy skin if I go low and slow.
Before I light my grill, I’ll season my bird. You can make your own rub by combining savory spices like: salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, garlic, onion, cumin, etc – or you can buy a commercially available rub. If going commercial, I some personal favorites of mine are Plowboys Yardbird & Hardcore Carnivore Red.
Once your charcoal is lit, set your grill up for two zone indirect cooking, and then lay your bird on the “cool” side. Cover your chicken and let it cook.
After about 45 mins to an hour, I’ll move my chicken directly over the charcoal. This will help crisp the skin. Leave your lid up and watch to make sure your chicken isn’t burning. Once you’ve charred the outside of your bird, check to make sure the internal temp is 165°F. Check in a couple of places. Just because the breast is 165°, does not mean the thigh is done yet.
Some people add BBQ sauce at the end of their cook, but I find it can make the skin rubbery so I tend to go sans sauce.
I like to just cut the chicken into quarters to serve, but if you want to separate the legs from the thighs, and the wings from the breasts, that’s just fine.
Serve this meal with some baked potatoes and a Cesar salad. Your guests are sure to remember it!