Father’s Day is this Sunday. Have you planned your menu yet? If not, take a look at this easy and simple chicken dinner. Grilling a whole chicken seems a bit intimidating, but with the backbone cut out of it, it is actually easy and quick to cook!
I just got back in town after four fun-filled days at BlogHer Food in Austin, Texas. During my absence, The Artist worked his way through the refrigerator so that by the time I got home, it was cleaned out. No problem. A quick run to the grocery store and we are stocked up again.
I knew that as tired as I was, I didn’t want to spend a ton of time on a complicated meal. What could I make that was quick, easy, and uncomplicated? Grilled chicken fit the bill perfectly! I asked the butcher to butterfly it for me (cutting out the backbone) so that it would cook faster and I was on my way. A few fresh vegetables and dinner was planned.
I picked up a bunch of asparagus spears and sliced some Vidalia onions (thanks to the Vidalia Onion Committee) that I knew would be delicious grilled and could also be the foundation for other dishes for later in the week. Virtually any vegetable can be cooked on the grill so don’t forget to buy some extras when you are at the market and cook them up alongside your proteins!
To help the chicken remain flat while it is cooking and to give it a little more structure, I used two metal skewers, one passing through the thighs and breast, the other inserted just below the rounded ends of the wings. This helps you move it around on the grill more easily, just don’t forget that the metal gets hot and will burn you. Use tongs to move it around the grill.
Rather than fuss with a wet brine or taking the time for a dry rub to penetrate the meat, I chose to go with my fallback favorite, brushing the outside of the chicken with salad dressing. I reached for my homemade balsamic vinaigrette that would impart a subtle flavor – perfect!
The chicken cooks mostly unattended, giving you time to set the table, grill the vegetables, and prepare the rest of your meal. Keep an eye on it and if it looks like it is cooking too quickly or starting to burn, move it to the cooler side of the grill and lower the heat if possible.
This may not be the most elegant meal you’ve ever made, but I promise your dad will love it and be begging you to repeat it every week just for him! Change up the seasonings, the vegetables you grill alongside, maybe try adding a splash of barbecue sauce right at the end and you’ve got an entirely different meal!
Happy Father’s Day to the men in your lives and I hope you all enjoy this simple, easy and quick meal preparation.
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
For your second meal, combine the chopped grilled vegetables with cooked rice, a little olive oil and fresh herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat if needed before serving.
Make your own balsamic vinaigrette to assure no cross-contamination with gluten ingredients. Most seasonings are gluten-free, but always check with the producer to guarantee your safety.
- 1 (3 to 3-1/2 lb) whole chicken, backbone cut out and giblets discarded
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Balsamic vinaigrette
- Assorted vegetables such as onions, zucchini, asparagus, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc. larger pieces cut in half
- Olive oil
- Lay the chicken on a work surface, cut side down, and flatten it, pressing hard on the breastbone to crack it so it will lay flat. Insert one metal skewer through one thigh, both breasts, coming out through the other thigh, being careful to keep your supporting hand out of the way. Repeat with the second skewer, running it just under the rounded part of the wings and through the top of the breasts. Tuck the wing tips back over chicken keeping them tight to the wings.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides with the salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Transfer to a baking sheet and set aside while you prepare the grill.
- If using a gas grill, preheat one side to high and the other to low. If using a charcoal grill, prepare a medium fire, banking the coals on one side of the grill. Note: never use lighter fluid on charcoal, always use a chimney or electric starter to avoid the nasty flavors imparted by the fluid and the harmful vapors.
- Brush the skin side of the chicken liberally with the vinaigrette and place on the cool side of the grill, skin side up, with the legs facing the hotter side. Cover the grill, opening vents on the top and bottom. Cook until an instant read thermometer reaches 105°F to 110°F when inserted into the breast (being careful not to touch any bones which will throw off the accuracy of the thermometer). While chicken is cooking, wash the tongs and baking sheet to avoid contamination with raw chicken juices.
- While the chicken is cooking you can add olive oil-brushed vegetables to the grill and cook them until they have grill marks and still have a slight crunch. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces when cool enough to handle.
- Flip the chicken to the hot side of the grill, skin side down and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the breast registers about 150°F to 155°F. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a clean platter, tent loosely with foil and let rest for about 10 minutes. This will allow the internal temperature to reach 160°F and finish cooking the chicken all the way through.
- Using a sturdy knife, cut the chicken in half lengthwise through the center of the breast. Then cut each half into two pieces just above the legs. Serve chicken with some of the chopped vegetables.
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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