Okay, so I miscalculated how much time the giant package of chicken thighs and the over 7 lb roasting chicken needed to thaw in the refrigerator, and instead of it falling on two consecutive days, it arrived all at once today. Obviously, we can’t eat it all in one day, but cooking it all is not that big a deal. I simply roasted the thighs this morning with a little olive oil and salt & pepper and will remove the meat to use in some kind of casserole or pot pie, although that crispy skin might be a lunchtime snack. One future meal with the hard part done:
The roasting chicken is what I intended to cook today, so that’s going as planned. I spatchcocked the roaster and it’s sitting in a simple marinade (thank you Martha Stewart) until later this afternoon when it goes on the grill. I find the large roasters to be a little too big to work well in my Weber® chicken roasting slash beer can cooking device, so spatchcocking works best. As long as you have a good pair of kitchen shears, cutting out the backbone is easy, and that’s really the only hard part. Here’s a good video of how to do it:
Here’s what my large bird looked like after spatchcocking and then with a marinade:
Advice varies about how to place these birds on the grill and how long to cook them. Direct or indirect heat, skin side up or down? Here’s a good (and long) discussion of all the issues: http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/08/the-food-lab-how-to-grill-a-whole-chicken.html Because this is a big bird, I want to make sure the thighs are done before I turn over the skin side to get charred and crispy, so I’m using a two heat setup where the bird will cook over indirect heat until almost done, and then be flipped on the skin side over direct heat to get crispy and finish cooking. As with all whole birds, you want the dark meat done, but you don’t want the breasts overdone and dry. It’s the same dilemma you have when you oven roast a bird for the holidays. Wish me luck.
It went well, but it took longer than I thought it might because of the size of the bird. It took about 30 minutes over indirect heat for the breast to come to 110° but then it took just as long or a little longer over direct heat for both the breast and thighs to be done. Still, it all came out juicy and the skin was crispy.
You’ll notice that I did put two short skewers through the thighs, which made it easy to turn and move around, and may have helped increase the temperature in the thighs. So here are the basics of this method:
- Spatchcock the chicken by removing the backbone and flattening at the breastbone.
- Rub with a marinade and let sit, covered in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.
- Set up grill for two heat zones, direct and indirect. I used a full chimney of briquettes.
- Insert skewers through the thighs and breast end.
- When the grill grate is hot and cleaned, lay the chicken, skin side up, over indirect heat and close the cover. Cook for about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your bird, checking that the breast temperature is at least 110°.
- Turn the chicken skin side down over the direct heat side of the grill, close the cover and cook until the breast registers about 145° and the thighs about 160°.
Most of the advice I see has you turning the bird only once, but do what you think you need to do.