Grilled Whole Chickens with Garlic, Lemon & Thyme Butter


Grilled Whole Chickens with Garlic, Lemon & Thyme Butter  |  Roasted Baby Potatoes  |  Steamed Haricots Vert

Intro Collage


“Ask the butcher to spatchcock the chickens for you.  He will split them down the middle and flatten them out so that they resemble road-kill.  Butchered this way, they can be grilled rather than roasted.” ~ Nigel Slater, The Kitchen Diaries

I find Nigel Slater’s description of a spatchcocked chicken hilarious but also accurate…


Removing the backbone of the bird so it will lay flat for cooking is not difficult, all you really need is a large, heavy knife.  Sometimes I do it myself but, more often than not, I ask the butcher to split the birds for me.  Remember to have the butcher place the backbones in a bag for you…they can be used to make Homemade Chicken Stock.  If you happen to be one of those people who enjoy playing with knives and would like to do the de-boning yourself, you can view a quick tutorial by scrolling down to Tools, Tips and Tricks on the right hand side of this page and click on “How to Butterfly a Chicken“.

Grilling the chickens produces such lovely, moist and tender meat that I usually  don’t bother with marinades.  A generous coating of salt and pepper is all the birds really need.  For this evening’s dinner I finished the chickens with a basting of a compound butter in the last few minutes on the grill to bring an infusion of garlic, herbs and lemon to the final dish.  The flavor was subtle and the butter helped create a wonderful golden color on the skin of the birds…


Garlic, Lemon & Thyme Butter {adapted from The Kitchen Diaries, by Nigel Slater}

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pushed through a garlic press
  • 8 tablespoons {1 stick} of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
  • Grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • Sea salt to taste
  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl and, using a fork, mash together to thoroughly combine.  If you are not going to use the butter within 20-30 minutes of preparing, store covered in the refrigerator.  Ideally, you want to use the butter when it is at room temperature.  


As for cooking the chicken {or chickens in my case…our organic birds tonight were small so I prepared 3 ensuring I would have leftover meat for tomorrow evening’s dinner}, the first step is to prepare a grill to moderately high heat.  We use a charcoal grill equipped with a tray for holding the charcoal that can be raised and lowered during grilling, which gives you some flexibility with flame and heat during cooking.  Another trick is to keep an area of the grill reserved for indirect heat. This can be accomplished by banking the coals to one side of the grill if you are using charcoal or to simply keep one burner area off if you are using a gas grill.  You can alternate between direct and indirect heat to keep the skin from burning.  Depending on the heat of your grill as well as the size of your birds, cooking times will vary.  Our chickens this evening took a total of 35 minutes on the grill and then were allowed to rest on a carving board for 10 minutes.  I turned the chickens after the first 15 minutes of cooking and then once again at 25 minutes {at which time I basted the birds with the butter}.  The chicken is done when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast registers between 165°-170°F {the thigh meat will usually register a bit higher at 175°F}.

Our chickens this evening were accompanied by two very simple sides…steamed haricots vert {French green beans that are a bit more slender than traditional green beans} and roasted new potatoes.  You can view the recipes for these side dishes by clicking on the photos below.

Green Beans Collage




Tonight’s dinner plate …



K Initial

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