I start my grilled whole chicken with a French mix of fresh herbs rubbed into the chicken. Then I brush it with a sweet and spicy glaze as it cooks. And, to top it off, I make a caramelized shallot butter. The result is layers of flavor. Earthy, green notes from the herbs, sharp spice from the mustard, and complex sweetness from the honey and shallots. Yum!
We’re in the middle of the ‘let’s get out of house and go do something‘ part of the summer!
This past weekend we all went up to western New York for a few days to visit my in-laws and drop off the daughter. Yep, the husband and I have been daughter free this week. It feels weird! Good for working and getting things done, but there is this daughter shaped hole in my thoughts.
Luckily, it won’t be there long since we are retrieving her on Thursday. On Thursday we’re getting together with my in-laws and my parents in western Massachusetts for a few days of seeing a nice play, going out to dinner, and visiting a museum or two. At that point all my impulses to tell someone to brush their teeth and get to bed will be back where they belong. 🙂
In between, I’ve been cooking, trying out new recipes, writing, and all that good stuff needed to keep things going around here.
About the only issue with this week is that it is about 60F here! In the middle of summer! I need a jacket and all the blankets on the bed. Brrr! At least it’s a good week to test out oven recipes…
But let’s think back to warmer days…like last week, when grilling was the only way to go and the only way I was going to consider cooking a whole chicken.
Roasting a chicken in the oven is awesome in the winter, but not so much in the summer. Even with air conditioning, I’m not going to turn on the oven for hours if I can possibly avoid it.
Bring on the grill!
And bring on the June/July issue of Fine Cooking. As I was sitting and thinking about what I should do with a chicken if I wanted to grill it, that issue arrived in my mailbox with an article all about butterflying and grilling small birds. Aha! They recommended a three layered approach of rub, glaze, and flavored butter. After I finished reading the article, I closed the magazine and thought ‘okay, what would I do? what flavors are mine?’ and so I came up with a French style whole grilled chicken inspired by their methods but with my own flavors and ideas.
Like with my quick and tasty Grilled Tuscan Style Turkey I posted last year, this recipe starts with a whole bird and a pair of kitchen shears. Happily, cutting up a chicken is So Much Easier than doing the same for a turkey, which means its a matter of minutes for me to snip down the backbone of the chicken and flatten in out.
Once I have my chicken all set, I give a good rub. I do adore the flavor you get when you rub meat with fresh herbs and let it rest for a while. In this case, I’ve chosen to work with French flavors, so I made up a fines herbes mix.
There is some variation in exactly what herbs to use in fines herbes, some use thyme or sage as a minor note in the mix, others add a bit of oregano, but the basics are well known – parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil. Fresh not dried! Let’s note that chervil, especially fresh chervil is basically impossible to find (or at least improbable) on this side of the Atlantic, so I switched to a mix of oregano and thyme in its place. A bit of a different flavor, but still good, and those are all fresh herbs I have in my garden and in my herb pots.
The first few times I did this grilled chicken, I didn’t use a glaze, but the sweet and spicy flavor from the honey and dijon mustard does add a needed layer of flavor. I couldn’t believe how the chicken went from ‘this is good’ to ‘this is great!’ once I added the glaze. Don’t skip the glaze! It takes two ingredients and about 30 seconds to make.
After the chicken comes off the grill, it’s time slice it up and pull out the compound butter. You’ll need to make the butter at least a few hours ahead to give the shallots time to caramelize and cool from caramelizing and then for the butter to set after you mix it all together.
To make a complete meal, I cooked up some extra crispy roasted potatoes and simple, steamed broccolini. Roasted potatoes and broccolini (or broccoli) are always big hits in my house so that was an easy choice for the meal. 🙂
Also, I’ll note that my picky 12 year old daughter who turns her nose up at chicken most nights, gives this recipe for grilled whole chicken two thumbs up. Even though I made it a number of times in the past month or two. High praise from her!
– Happy Grilling, Annemarie
A French herb rub, a sweet and spicy glaze, and a caramelized shallot butter all combine to make a grilled whole chicken full of layered flavors.
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp butter
- 2 medium shallots, sliced 1/8 inch thick
- pinch each of salt and sugar
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 3 1/2 lb whole chicken
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp water
Heat a medium skillet (not non-stick) over medium low heat. Add the oil and butter. Once the butter melts and foams, add the shallots and a pinch each of salt and sugar. Cook the shallots, stirring occasionally until they are medium brown and very soft, 40-45 minutes. Keep a cup of water nearby and add a few drops as needed if the shallots are browning too much.
- Remove the shallots from the heat and let them cool to room temperature. Once cool, finely chop the shallots.
In a bowl mix together the chopped shallots, butter, honey, thyme, salt with a large silicone spatula.
- Cut off a piece of wax paper or parchment paper. Scoop the compound butter onto the paper in a rough log shape. Roll the bottom half of the paper over the butter. Using a bench scraper, pull the covered butter towards you until the butter is tightly wrapped and is in a nice, smooth log. Twist the ends of the paper and refrigerate the butter until hard, about 2 hours.
With the chicken breast side down, use your poultry shears and cut along each side of the backbone. Once you've done that, turn it over and press down on the bird to flatten it out.
Combine all the chopped herbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl. Rub the chicken all over with the herb mixture, keeping most of it on the breast and leg/thigh meat of the bird. Let the chicken sit out on the counter while you heat up the grill.
Preheat the grill until it is very hot and clean off the grates.
Grill the chicken, breast side down for 10 minutes with the grill cover open. Carefully loosen the chicken skin from the grates if it has gotten stuck, then turn over the chicken.
Reduce the heat to low so that you can maintain a temperature of about 350F. Either shut off one of the burners and turn down the others or move the coals so that you have cooler area in the middle with more heat on the sides. Either way you want only indirect heat on the breast meat with direct, low heat on the legs.
Cover the grill and continue cooking the chicken, breast side up until done, 160F, 35-40 minutes on my grill.
As soon as you put the chicken on the grill, mix together the honey, mustard, and water in a bowl. Set it aside.
After you turn the chicken, begin brushing the chicken with the glaze every few minutes. Don't worry if you run out of glaze.
Once the chicken has reached temperature, remove it to a cutting board and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.
- Take the butter out of the refrigerator and let it warm up while the chicken rests. If you have shaped the butter into a log, you can either set it out on a small cutting board for people to cut off portions or cut it into coins for the table.
- You can put the caramelized shallots into the refrigerator to cool them faster.
- If you don't want to fuss with making the butter into a log, just scrape the butter into a small serving bowl and pass that around at the table. For photos of how to make the log, see this post.
- You will not need all the butter for the chicken! From experience, you'll only need half the butter, maybe a bit more. The butter is great on warm bread or with steak.
- A small food processor makes quick work of chopping all the herbs. Add the herbs, roughly chopped garlic, salt and pepper to the bowl of the processor. Pulse a few times and then add the oil and process until smooth.
- If you want a deeper herb flavor, you can prepare and rub the chicken the day before.
- Also, you can make the butter up to 3 days ahead.