To my mind there’s no better use of a charcoal grill than to roast a whole chicken. I’m a roast chicken girl from way back, requesting one every year on my birthday when I was growing up. Roasting the bird on the grill until the meat is smoky-juicy and the skin is a crackling, burnished brown just ups the attraction.
It wasn’t my birthday last Thursday but the glorious weather just shouted “spatchcock chicken” to me. Not actually, but the Weber was at hand and for some reason I couldn’t get the word “spatchcock” out of my mind. Great word, right? Spatchcock, spatchcock, spatchcock.
While pondering the origins of the word (Scottish?) I envisioned a flattened, bronzed bird with a garlic-orange-honey-thyme glaze. I would use my new mortar and pestle (a behemoth Tony brought home from the Asian Food Market on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls) to pound the garlic into a paste, releasing clouds of aroma and flavor.
I jotted down the bare bones of a recipe and logged on to Google. Here’s the lowdown on “spatchcock”: The word is probably of Irish origin, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, perhaps shorthand for “dispatch the cock.” It evolved to mean killing and cooking a game bird quickly. A whole chicken does indeed cook relatively quickly when it is cut up the back, spread open and flattened.
While gardening and puttering around the house (retirement rocks!), I flattened the chicken and made the marinade, then later set up the grill, then later made the glaze. My 5-pound bird took about 60 minutes to roast over indirect heat on the grill. Most broiler-fryers are smaller, though, and won’t take quite as long. Mine looked like a million bucks and tasted like my birthday. This might be my favorite summer dinner.
WITH ORANGE-THYME GLAZE
- 1 cup orange juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup salt
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme• 1 meaty broiler-fryer chicken, about 4 lbs.
• 1 cup orange juice
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1/4 cup salt
• 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
• 2 tbsp. honey
• 2 sprigs fresh thyme
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 3/4 cup orange juice
• 1 tsp. grated orange zest
• 1 tsp. yellow mustard
• 1/4 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
• 1/4 cup honey
- Rinse chicken inside and out. Place on a cutting board, breast down. With poultry shears or a sharp knife, cut alongside backbone from the neck to tail cavities. Flatten the chicken, skin side up and breasts in the middle, pushing down on the center with the heel of your hand. Trim and discard excess skin and fat. Fit flattened chicken into a 1-gallon, zipper-close plastic bag.Marinade: Measure out the orange juice. If you have a mortar and pestle, cream together garlic and 1 teaspoon of the salt until it is a thick paste. Stir it into the orange juice with the other marinade ingredients. Alternately, drop garlic through the feed tube of a food processor with the motor running. Turn off motor, remove lid and add remaining marinade ingredients except thyme. Pulse until smooth. Pour marinade over chicken in bag. Add thyme sprigs and seal. Put in a large bowl or on a lipped platter (to catch any leaks) and refrigerate at least 4 hours, turning once or twice.Glaze: While chicken marinates, heat olive oil in a small saucepan. Sauté garlic over medium heat until it begins to change color. Whisk in juice, zest, mustard, thyme and honey. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a slow boil. Boil until liquid is reduced by about half, stirring occasionally, until mixture is about as thick as melted butter. Remove from heat.
Build a 50-briquette fire in one half of a covered grill. Place an oblong foil pan in the bottom of the opposite side. Soak some wood chips, if desired. When coals have ashed over, scatter the drained chips over the coals. Place a greased grid over the coals and pan.
Drain and pat dry the chicken. Oil or butter the skin.
Place the flattened chicken skin side down on the grid over the foil pan. Cover grill, leaving vent holes open. After 20 minutes, turn chicken over and arrange so the side nearest the fire is now in back.
Do this every 20 minutes until an instant thermometer inserted in the breast reads 165 degrees, about 40 to 60 minutes depending on size of the chicken and how quickly you can turn and re-cover it.
Place chicken on a platter and allow to rest while reheating the glaze. Pour about half of the glaze over the chicken. Pass the remaining glaze at the table. Serves 3 to 4.
What I cooked last week: Pan-grilled pork chops with a sweet soy sauce glaze; strawberry Jell-O with sliced strawberries and whipped topping; grill-smoked whole chicken with a honey-orange glaze, grilled sweet potatoes; a big salad of home-grown arugula with sliced herbed chicken and homemade vinaigrette; egg salad.
What I ate in restaurants last week: The Big Al (turkey salad, bacon, avocado and cranberry sauce on rye) at Gasoline Alley in Bath; Blue Moon Burger with grilled mushrooms, grilled onions, bacon and blue cheese at Wolf Creek Tavern in Norton; a California roll and a salad bowl of green tea ramen noodles, lettuce, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, edamame, corn kernels and stir-fried beef and onions with sesame dressing at Tensuke Express in Columbus.
The casual Japanese restaurant where I had that terrific ramen salad is part of Tensuke Market, a Japanese grocery store that is a must-visit whenever Tony and I are in Columbus. Sometimes we go to Columbus just for the store, which has the widest selection of Japanese products we have found within driving distance.
Tony enjoys picking up a copy of a Japanese newspaper and scanning the shelves for the latest cooking gadgets and knick-knacks from Japan. But mostly we go for the food, which ranges from fresh produce (enoki and shiitake mushrooms, kabocha squash, burdock root, daikon radishes, etc.) to thin Japanese cuts of meat to a wide array of packaged snacks, sweets, tea, seasonings, noodles and drinks. Deli cases hold an extensive selection of sushi and bento boxes.
After Tony and I check out, we usually head to the Sushi 10 sushi bar sandwiched between the market and Tensuke Express. Some people get bento boxes from the deli case to eat at the sushi bar, while others order from the menu. The space is no-frills but the food is excellent.
You could take your sushi next door to Tensuke Express, as we did, and supplement it with items from that menu, which is mostly bowl foods of stir-fries and rice, ramen, udon and soba noodles, along with chicken teriyaki, fried fish, chicken karaage (ultra crisp fried chicken) and fried chicken and pork cutlets. Beef curry, which Tony had, also is on the menu. Nothing at Tensuke Express costs more than $10.
Tensuke Market and restaurants are at 1167 Old Henderson Road in Columbus. The website is tensukemarket.com.
Your orzo salad reminded me of my summer favorite: cooked orzo, halved cherry tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper, olive oil and fresh minced basil. The tomatoes are left in the garlic and olive oil for about an hour to release the juices, then everything is mixed together and served at room temperature or cool. It just hits every note correctly.
Dear Sura: I will definitely try this. It sounds like the topping for a ciabatta pizza I like to make and you’re right — so simple but perfect.
From J.D. and many others:
What size hat does Tony wear? I have (or can tell him where to get) an Amish hat he can have (or buy).
People, people: I thought you were my friends. I do not want Tony to wear oversized denim trousers and suspenders, let alone an Amish hat. His tractor-logo ball caps are bad enough.
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Please tell your friends about my blog site (https://janesnowtoday.wordpress.com/), where you can find not only each week’s newsletter but archives of past newsletters.Please note: If your email address changes, you must re-subscribe to my newsletter in order to continue receiving it. We are unable to change the address for you in our email list. The procedure is easy. Just click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of a newsletter. Then go to http://www.janesnowtoday.com, to sign up under your new address. Thank you.