Tuscan Lemon Chicken
adapted from a recipe by Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics
1 3-4 pound chicken, flattened (I had a 3 and 3/4 pound chicken.)
Springs of fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves sliced thin
2 lemons, halved
1/2 cup olive oil
Zest of 2 lemons
4 Cloves of minced garlic (I like to finely grate on a microplane.)
2 Tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves (From my herb garden!)
Freshly ground black pepper
HOW TO FLATTEN THE CHICKEN:
1.) Use a very sharp pair of kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut out the backbone. Make a cut or slice down each side of the backbone. This is not hard, just be careful.
2.) Use your kitchen shears to trim away any protruding rib bones once the backbone has been removed.
3.) Flatten the chicken by “bending the chicken in half”. Bend the breasts and the thighs back toward one another. You can make this easier by removing the “keel bone” located inside the cavity between the breasts.
PREPARING THE FLATTENED CHICKEN:
1.) Rinse the chicken well under cold water, remove any excess fat and pat the bird dry with a paper towel.
2.) I like to place sprigs of fresh rosemary and slices of garlic under the skin of the chicken.
3.) Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoon of salt on each side.
MARINATING THE CHICKEN:
1.) Combine all ingredients for the marinade.
2.) Place the flattened chicken in a plastic bag and cover with the marinade. Try to get as much air out of the bag as possible and close the seal. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, turning the bag over every hour or so.
GRILLING THE CHICKEN:
1.) Turn your gas grill to medium low. You do not want to cook at a high heat. The temperature gauge on my gas grill was reading about 300 degrees.
2.) Liberally wipe the grill grates with cooking oil to aid in the prevention of sticking. (Next time I will use a bit more oil on the grill as the skin did stick and pull away in places when removing it from the grill.)
3.) Place the chicken, bone side down, on the grill. Weight the chicken down with a foil covered cast iron skillet large enough to cover the chicken. You can use foil covered bricks as well. (When grilling a whole chicken, the bones help the chicken hold its shape and retain flavor. They also help the chicken cook faster and more evenly. That’s why it helps to start the chicken on the grill with the bones facing the heat source.)
4.) Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the underside is golden brown. Turn the chicken skin side down, weight again with the cast iron pan, and cook for another 15 minutes, until the skin is brown and the chicken cooked thru. (I cooked until the internal temperature reached about 165 degrees. When I turned the chicken skin side down, it did create some flames that cooked the skin more than I wanted. Although it did not affect the taste of the chicken, the appearance was not what I had hoped for. Next time, I will do a better job of controlling the flames in the hopes of nicely golden brown skin on the finished chicken!)
5.) During the last 15 minutes of grilling, place the lemon halves cut side down on the grill. I was surprised at how juicy the lemons were after grilling. I squeezed the first one I picked up a bit too hard and lost all the juice!
6.) Remove the chicken from the grill when cooked thru and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes. Squeeze the lemons over the chicken just before serving.