Grilled Butterflied Chicken, Thai Brinerated
Butterflied chicken is my second favorite way to grill chicken.
*After rotisserie grilling, of course.
I picked up this technique from Su-Mei Yu in Fine Cooking magazine; I’ve been using it for years, and I’ve played with her recipe a bit. I’ve made it more of a brinerade than a marinade, but the flavor profile of of garlic, cilantro stems and soy sauce is her idea.
*I love that I can use cilantro stems in the recipe. I feel like I get something for nothing, by using an ingredient that would normally be thrown away.
The other idea from Su-Mei Yu’s article is intentionally making leftovers. Whenever I cook whole chicken, I always cook two chickens. We eat one for the main meal, and I have leftovers for later in the week. I’ll be following this recipe with a couple of examples of how to use leftover chicken to make multiple meals.
*Meals that are fancier than just eating the leftovers as they are. I love leftover chicken, but three days of it leaves me dreading that last drumstick.
Recipe: Grilled Butterflied Chicken, Thai Brinerated
- Grill (I like this one)
- Aluminum foil drip pan (9″x11″, or whatever fits your grill)
- 2 whole chickens, 3 1/2 pounds each
- 6 cloves garlic
- Stems from 1/2 bunch of cilantro
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
- 2 tsp garlic chili sauce (I like Huy Fong Garlic Chili Sauce)
Dipping sauce (From my Thai Style Grilled Chicken Breast recipe)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 small cloves garlic , minced
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
1. Butterfly the chicken: Butterfly the chicken by cutting out the backbone, and flattening the breastbone by pressing down hard with the back of your hand. Fold the wing tips back under the wing, then and put each chicken in a large (1 gallon) ziploc bag. *Or, put them in a baking dish that can hold them flat, but make sure you rotate them every 15 minutes while marinating.
2. Marinate the chicken: Prepare the marinade in this order: first, drop the cloves of garlic into a running food processor, and wait until they are finely minced. Next, add the cilantro stems and coriander seeds, and pulse the food processor until finely minced. Add the soy sauce, peanut oil and garlic paste, and process until well combined. Pour half into each bag with the chicken. Zip the bag halfway, then squeeze out all the air you can and seal it. Now turn the bag over a few times and massage the chicken through the bag, until the brinerade is covering the chicken evenly. Refrigerate, turning occasionally, for 1 to 4 hours. Meanwhile, make the Thai Dipping Sauce by putting all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisking until the sugar dissolves.
3. Prepare the grill: Prepare your grill for cooking on indirect high heat (details in my grilled chicken basic technique). For my Weber kettle, I light a chimney starter* full of charcoal, wait for it to be covered with ash, then pour it in two equal piles on the sides of the grill, and put the drip pan in the middle, between the piles. *I highly recommend the Weber Chimney Starter, because it is larger than most chimney starters. It holds 5 quarts of charcoal, which exactly the right size for cooking this recipe.
4. Grill the chicken: Put the chicken on the grill, over the drip pan, skin side down. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Flip the chicken skin side up and cook, covered, until the chicken is done, about another 15 to 30 minutes. You want the chicken to be 160 to 170*F in the thickest part of the breast, and 170*F to 180*F in the deepest part of the thigh.
*At this point, you should have nice, crispy skin. If you don’t, put the chicken skin side down over the coals and sear for 1-3 minutes, or until the skin is crisped to your liking. Watch out – dripping chicken fat causes flare-ups. You don’t want to burn the chicken at the last minute.
5. Serve: Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes, then carve into serving pieces. Cut the legs from the body, then cut the drumsticks from the thighs. Cut the wings from the breasts, then split the breast right down the middle. Serve with the dipping sauce.
*This makes a relatively mild chicken; to spice it up, put 2 tablespoons of chili garlic sauce in the marinade instead of 2 tsp.
*Add the zest and juice of a lime to the brinerade. This makes the it acidic, so don’t brinerate the chicken for more than two hours. If you do, the acid will start to cook the chicken.
*Cooking time will vary based on the size of your chicken; with 3.5 lbs chickens, it took about 50 minutes. With small (3lbs chickens), I’ve been done in a half an hour; with larger (4.5 lb chickens), it’s taken as long as an hour and fifteen minutes.
*Flipping the chicken is best done by grabbing the knobby end of both legs with your tongs, and using them to flip the chicken up and over.
*Don’t forget the dipping sauce! It pushes this recipe from really good grilled chicken to great. If you have any left over, save it for the Asian Noodle Salad we’re going to make with the leftovers.
Questions? Comments? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.