Grilled or Broiled Split Chicken

Flatten the bird for fast cooking without burning.
TIME About 1 hour
MAKES 4 servings
1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons, quartered, for serving

1 Either prepare a grill for indirect cooking so that there are hot coals on half and nothing on the other half and put the rack about 4 inches from the heat source, or turn the broiler to high and put the rack about 6 inches from the heat source. Remove the backbone and split the chicken: With the breast facing up, cut down each side of the backbone, front to rear, with a chef’s knife or kitchen shears. Once the backbone is removed, lay the chicken out and press down firmly to flatten it. Turn it over, then press down again.

2 Mix together the rosemary, salt, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Put your fingers between the skin and the meat of the breast to loosen the skin of the chicken and tuck about half of the herb mixture under the skin; rub the remainder all over the chicken.

3 To grill: Put the chicken on the cool side of the grill, skin side up, cover, and cook until the meat is almost done, 20 to 30 minutes. Turn the chicken so that the skin side is over direct heat. (If the fire flares up, reduce the flame if it’s a gas grill; with a charcoal fire, move the chicken back to indirect heat.) Cook, turning and moving the chicken once or twice more, until most of the fat has been rendered and the bird is done, 10 to 15 minutes more (if using a charcoal fire, add more coals if necessary).
To broil: Put the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet, skin side down, and broil; you might need to move it to a lower rack to prevent burning. When the chicken looks opaque, in about 25 minutes, turn and cook until the skin is brown, 10 to 15 minutes more. Move the chicken close to—or away from—the heat as needed so it cooks through without burning. Turn the skin side down if it’s browning too quickly, but finish with a final crisping of the skin.

4 The meat is done when a quick-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh reads 155–165°F or the juices run clear when you make a small cut near the bone. Let it rest for a few minutes, then cut it into serving pieces. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and serve with the lemon.


  • Tandoori-Style Grilled or Broiled Split Chicken: Skip the rosemary, salt, garlic, and olive oil. In Step 2, put in a blender or food processor 1 medium quartered onion, 2 cloves garlic, a ½-inch piece of fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground), 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, ¼ teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup yogurt. Blend until smooth. Put the chicken in a large baking dish with the marinade and turn to make sure it’s well coated; refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally. Scrape off most of the marinade before cooking and continue with the recipe; serve hot.
  • Chipotle-Lime Grilled or Broiled Split Chicken: Skip the rosemary, salt, and garlic. Replace the lemons with limes. In Step 2, combine ¼ cup chopped or puréed canned chipotles in adobo and the juice of 2 limes along with the olive oil. Rub the mixture all over the chicken as described in Step 2. Serve with the quartered lime.

  • Splitting the chicken is another good place to use kitchen shears.

Post a Comment