Eat More Chicken


So it’s not a
gorgeous picture, it tasted gorgeous and that’s what counts.

Here’s the
thing. Even during my meat eating years
I wasn’t all that big a fan of chicken. It just tasted like, well, chicken. A little dry, boring, nothing to get worked up about unless you coated
it with fry, which we never did in my house. We either grilled it and doused it with lemon and garlic in the Lebanese
way or ate a hybrid dish my dad used to make from Craig Claiborne’s NYT Cookbook that he called “Poulet Morengo Chicken Portuguese” (catchy huh?) I hated it.

Since venturing
back into the land of the omnivores, chicken has given me great pause. I hate what they do to commercially raised
chicken and I just flat out won’t eat one, which really narrows my chicken options. The few times I’ve gotten a good local free
range chicken I have fried it, with good results, but otherwise, eh, I just haven’t
been that into it.

But right before we
left Bloomington to come to Apalachicola I bought  ten nice fat chickens from Schacht Farm and we brought two of them
with us, frozen, in the cooler. Last
night we cooked the second one and it was a poultry revelation.

I used one of my
favorite standby cookbooks for when I really don’t know what I am doing – The
America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
. They suggest a way of grilling chicken I hadn’t run into before, taking
out the backbone and laying the bird flat on the grill, skin side down over
indirect heat for half an hour. Seemed
straightforward enough, and hard to mess up.

So that’s what we
did. Started with a tasty chicken whose
good life I could vouch for. Brined it
in 2 quarts of water, ½ cup salt, ½ cup sugar and some chopped garlic for an
hour. Took it out and dried it off.

Tweaking the ATK
recipe, I heated up a cup of olive oil, lots of chopped garlic, a couple
tablespoons dried basil, red pepper flakes, pepper, and a shake or two of cinnamon. Loosened the chicken’s skin and spooned the
oil/garlic/basil mixture all under the skin. Saved some for later.

Grilled the chicken
as per the recipe – skin side down off direct heat for about 40 minutes. That was it. Carved it and ate it with potatoes and carrots roasted in a bit of the
same oil. Meanwhile I had simmered the
oil so the garlic was soft and I drizzled it all over the cooked chicken, potatoes,
and carrots. Squeezed a lemon over

good. The chicken was beyond flavorful –
a tasty chicken to start out with, then the brine, then the flavored oil, then
the grill. Really special. Did NOT taste just like any chicken I’d ever

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Ronnie says:

    this looks great! Just bought some Maine farm chickens and will absolutely try this recipe.


  2. Erin says:

    This looks fantastic! I have also always been unmoved by chicken. This looks like something I will have to try.


  3. Lydia says:

    I think that looks beautiful! The first time I saw a recipe that called for spatchcocking, I panicked! But it’s really not difficult to do.


  4. Christine says:

    Perfect, Ronnie — let me know what you think.
    Erin, do try it. But get a good bird to begin with.
    Lydia — I ALWAYS learn something from you. “Spatchcock” is a word that had never come my way before, but I love it.


  5. Ronnie says:

    AMAZING is what I think. Made this chicken last night exactly as you wrote about it and it was to die for.


  6. Terry B says:

    This looks and sounds delicious! I’m sure the olive oil/garlic/basil mixture added great flavor to the chicken. I’m a big fan of indirect heat for grilling. I’m only puzzled by the skin-side-down direction. Roasting it skin side up allows the fat in and under the skin to pass over and through the meat as it’s rendered, adding flavor and juiciness. Sounds like that wasn’t needed, though.


  7. Christine says:

    I was puzzled by the skin down grilling recommendation myself, Terry, but such is my poor record with chicken that I decided to follow the recipe exactly, and it was great. In Cooks Magazine the ATK people always explain why they do something (and why it is better than all the other things they tried) but in the cookbook they only give the best method they found.


  8. Lynn says:

    Ah, the recipe sounds good, but must give much of the credit to the chicken’s home base: the Schacht Farm. I became “accidentally” acquaited with them at the Bloomington Market when I was drawn to their site by the beautiful wool they were selling. So happens they were having a farm day, and so I visited their sheep shearing day and saw their turkeys and chickens on pasture.
    Later I found them at the Traders Point Market, and bought my first chicken from them…WOW! the taste was fabulous! I gave up Tyson chicken 10 years ago, and thought I’d never eat chicken again…but theirs is outstanding, even without a fancy recipe to make it yummy!~


  9. Sarah A. says:

    I agree wholehearted with you, Lynn. I’ve never brined their chicken and it’s always turned out fabulous. My favorite chicken recipe is for a roast bird with thyme, garlic, and lemon from Epicurious:
    So good with the right chicken, and the leftovers make incredible salad/sandwich/hash/soup. Not that there will be any — it’s usually just me eating, but I could see a family of four finishing off the whole thing.


  10. Deborah Dowd says:

    Your picture makes this chicken look mouth-watering. I have brined my turkey, but have never tried a chicken. Thanks for the inspiration!


  11. Deborah Dowd says:

    I think your chicken looks delicious!


  12. Jeena says:

    What a fabulous recipe. You have a lovely blog. 🙂


  13. vicki says:

    I think it’s NICE picture ! My husband LOVES barbeque, so I’ll have to try this next time we BBQ some Chicken.


  14. rich says:

    Spatchcocking is a superb technique – the bird cooks very quickly because the surface area of the carcass is doubled, and it’s very easy to ring the changes with different flavours. I’ve marinaded a spatchcocked chicken in a Moroccan style yoghurt dressing with cumin, cilantro and a little chilli before grilling it off. Absolutely delicious.


  15. Egy Azziera says:

    On my second trip to India, I got another piece of tandoori chicken (so juicy, tender and generally healthy because of how it is cooked), basmati rice, paneer of some sort (sorry, next time I will write it down!), and more of those mixed veggies. Yummy and tasty 🙂


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