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Aug 17, 2007 07:37 AM

Split chicken on the grill- help

YEaterday I got excellent advice on cooking a large london broil on the grill. Dinner was fabulous! This week I also picked up some split chickens ( for those of you in the Melrose area- I got them at Johnnies for less than $2.00 per chicken!). I want to grill them tomorrow, and am looking for tips on how long they will take- I do not want to pre cook them, but do not want to burn them, either.
I was also thinking of some kind of marinade with soy sauce, maybe- but all ideas are welcome. For herbs, I have rosemary, tarragon, parsley and globe basil in the garden. And have the usual suspects- garlice, shallots, ginger, lemon. Please help inspire me!

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  1. They will probably take about an hour, depending on how hot the grill you use is.

    I use a gas Weber, which give me nice, steady temperature control. I preheat it on high, then turn it down to medium when the bird goes on.

    Take 2 heavy bamboo skewers, and pass one throught the outer wing, through the breast, and out the other side thru the other outer wing. The second through the thigh, bottom of the breat, and thru the second thigh. This will keep the bird from coming apart, especially the legs/thighs, which are only connected to the rest of the bird by skin once butterflied.

    Grill it at a relatively low temp (300 deg) on a covered grill, bone side down for about 30-40 mins--it'll smoke a bit as fat renders from the skin. Then flip for 15-20, to brown and crisp up the skin. Back over for a few, and brush with whatever marinade or topping you are using. I typically use a kosher bird for moistness, and cook to 160 in the breast, 180 in the thigh, and they come out nice and juicy.

    In the summer, I tend to make something my family calls "gonza" (it's sort of an Italian barbeque sauce, I have no idea about the name, or where it comes from, or if it's just a old, made up family term.).

    You take about 1/2 can of whole plum tomatos, and crush them with your hands. Add the juice of 3 lemons or so, and about half that amount of olive oil (My grandmother never measured, so neither do I..just taste and adjust as I go). Add a generous amount of oregano (more than a TBSP), and salt and pepper to taste. Brush it on in the last 10-15 mins of cooking, placing the pieces of tomato "artfully" around the skin, and dabbing with the more liquidy part a few times. If you start putting in on right away, you'll get charring, burning, and flare-ups, and cook alot of the citrus taste out of it. It gets consistent raves.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

      Thanks so much. The sauce sound wonderful- maybe I will do that instead of marinating the birds. I love lemon with anything- maybe I will sub cherry tomatoes, as I have a ton of themin my garden. And, chickens are already split- each package contains two halves of the chicken, so I dont't think I will need to skewer.

      1. re: macca

        The skewering is actually a good idea. If you don't do it the wing can really droop down and burn quite badly. It is the same idea as trussing a roaster -- without doing it the outer smaller bit (drumstick and wing) will overcook.

        The application of sauce/basting liquid in the last 10-15 minutes is also a key, not only does it reduce tha chance that it will just go up in flames, the flavor does not fade.

        CBAM has some great advice!

        1. re: renov8r

          Thanks. Will skewer them- was not sure if I needed to, as they are spilt perfectly in half. But it certainly cannot hurt!

    2. I do mine on indirect heat. Even when on low if there is any fire underneath you risk flare ups that will char the skin. Mine cook at a temp of around 250 for around 90 min. They come out beautiful. I take whole chickens and split them myself. Cut little slits in the skin to tuck the legs into to keep it all tight and neat. The bamboo shewers will help you turn them but I've had no problem with just flipping using tongs except breaking the skin a little.

      1. All great advise so far.... one tip- just in case you do find the bird getting a bit too crispy you can always finish it in the oven (375-ish degrees).

        I always like to stuff fresh herbs under the skin then marinate for a bit in lemon and olive oil.


        3 Replies
        1. re: PamelaD

          Wasn't sure if I could stuff under the skin when grilling. But is do have lots of fresh herbs, This is the first summer I have really gotten into grilling. Nice to be able to get advice on techniques, etc. I am really comfortable in the kitchen, and hope to be as comfortable on the grill soon!

          1. re: macca

            If you have lots and lots of herbs, you can also lay them directly on the grill, away from direct heat, and let them smolder, giving off a nice flavored smoke. Woody rosemary is great for this, since the leaves get tough once the stems turn from green to brown, anyway.

            1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

              great idea- I did see this tip somewhere on tv, too. I often use my rosemary as a skewer for small potatoes on the grill.

        2. jfood grills a lot of chicken in the summer (last night again) and the times that people refer to here is waaaay longer than jfood experiences. He uses a Weber gas gril, preheats for 10 minutes on the front and back on high and the middle on low-med. Then he places the bird pieces on and closes the cover and watch for the initial brid fat onto grates. He is real careful to turn often during the first 10 minutes while the fat burns off. Then he turns every 3-4 minutes to get the nice rich color.

          All in jfood guesses the birds are off the grill in <30 minutes and he checks with a themometer. He takes the birds of at about 175 degrees. And they are juicy, juicy, juicy and the juice runs clear. Grilling a bird past 185 strats to evaporate the juicesm is jfood's experience.

          Wrt sauces, be careful of sugars, the burn VERY quickly. If you want to use any sauce leave it til the end 10 minutes, that's all it will need.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            I find pieces generally cook more quickly than whole bird, so that may be part of why you find yours cooking more quickly. I also generally find "low and slow" produces juicier birds, but I know a lot of people cook faster. I also find that when cooking whole, butterlied birds, it works out just about perfectly for doneness, with the thicker breast meat hitting a finished 160 at the same time the dark meat in the thighs and legs hits 180. At leat that the way we Darien boys do it!

            1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

              I agree with the low and slow; 60 to 90 minutes with the gas grill on low. Then you don't have to keep as close an eye on it, either - whip up some other stuff to go with it.

            2. re: jfood

              I think I will have to use my instant read as I cook. Like I did with the steak, will take it off before it is at the done stage, as I am sure it will cook another 10-15 degress once off the grill.
              Lots of marinades and sauces the family likes probably are not good when I am cooking a whole bird, as I know how much the sugar can burn- easy to use on quick cooking items, though.

            3. I grow my own herbs too. I like to put fresh cut up garlic and the herbs under the skin. For a marinade, I like Paul newman's lite sesame dressing..............I add a bit of balsamic vinegar to the dressing.................I usually split cornish hens, they cook much faster than a full grown chicken.