As much as I love a whole roast chicken any time of the year, grilled chicken is a must in the summer. Many recipes direct you to grill chicken pieces separately, but by taking a few extra steps, this whole chicken method will ensure that the entire chicken is moist and juicy. There will not be any dried-out chicken breasts or underdone chicken legs and thighs to pop your grilled chicken yummy balloon.
The concept of butterflying meat may sound intimidating, but it really couldn't be easier once you become comfortable with the technique. Simply remove the backbone using a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, then flatten the chicken to a uniform thickness. This helps the chicken pieces to cook evenly. To make sure that the white and dark meat finish cooking at the same time, the grill is prepared for indirect heat. This requires that one side of the grill is hot and the other side is cool. Placing the chicken on the cool side of the grill with the legs closest to the hot side enables the chicken to cook at a lower heat, resulting in a moist, juicy, and perfectly cooked chicken. As the browning bird reaches its final minutes on the grill, it is brushed with a sticky, sweet, buttery brown sugar sauce that becomes lightly caramelized before removing from the grill. The smell is an honest precursor to the taste. Trust me on this, you will love it.
*Note-- When turning the butterflied chicken I use a large round "cake" spatula on the underside and another spatula on the top side before flipping. This helps keep the tender meat of the entire chicken intact. If you don't have a large round "cake" spatula, use the largest spatulas you have on hand. Do not use tongs or forks for this will cause the skin, meat, and bones to separate/tear and moistness to be lost.
Grilled Butterflied Brown Sugar Chicken
1 (3 1/2 - 4 pound) whole chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons apricot jam
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground paprika
Using a pair of kitchen scissors, remove the backbone from the chicken and trim any excess fat or skin from the cavity. Turn the chicken skin side up and press the breastbone with the heel of your hand to flatten the chicken. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and use a meat mallet to lightly pound the breast to the same thickness as the legs and thighs. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and transfer to a rack set over a baking sheet. Refrigerate the chicken, uncovered, for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
Meanwhile, combine the butter, sugar, lemon juice, jam, mustard, and paprika. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick. Transfer half of the sauce to a small bowl for basting and keep the remaining sauce warm over low heat until ready to serve.
Prepare a charcoal grill using a chimney starter and lump hardwood coals. Spread the hot coals on one side of the grill bottom (indirect heat) and place an aluminum drip pan opposite the coals. Cover the grill, open the vents, and allow the grates to heat until hot, about 5 minutes.
Brush the skin of the chicken with the canola oil and season both sides with with salt and pepper. Clean and oil the grill grates. Place the chicken skin side down over the drip pan with the chicken legs closer to the hotter side of the grill. Cover the grill and cook until skin is lightly browned, about 30-35 minutes. Using a basting brush, brush the flesh side of the chicken with some of the sauce. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Carefully turn the chicken skin side up and brush the entire chicken with more sauce. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn the chicken skin side down and gently slide the chicken directly over the coals to cook for another 5-10 minutes; checking to make sure that the sauce isn't caramelizing to quickly. If so, move the chicken to the cooler part of the grill. Cook until the breasts registers 150º F and the thighs register 160º F. (The temperature will continue to rise as the chicken rests). Transfer the chicken to a carving board, brush with additional sauce, and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Serve with the reserved warm sauce. Enjoy!
Source: The Galley Gourmet