Lemon & herb spatchcock chicken: a bbq classic. Crispy skin, awesome flavour and guaranteed tender meat, with neither overcooked nor undercooked chicken. Serve with my lemon and herb sauce.
Much as we all love some summer sun, there is such a thing even here in rainy old England as a bit too much of the stuff. We’re well known for being great complainers us British – it’s either too hot or too cold – but perfect barbecue weather can quickly become a bit less perfect when you’re tired and drained from the heat and a tough day. And rugby preseason definitely gives you a tough day – coming home from training out on the field under a hot, unrelenting sun and long gym sessions, all aching limbs and sore muscles, sometimes means even I can’t quite work up the energy for a long, slow cook on my Kamado Joe.
Incoming solution: the Traeger. I’ve only had it a couple of months, but I can’t just recommend it enough. So easy to light, rapid up to temperature – quicker even than our oven – and a smart enough piece of kit for my wife to give it the thumbs up, it ticks every box. For us, it means as soon as the sting of the sun has gone and the balmy evening rolls on, we’ve got the whole family out in the garden most evenings, cooking on the grill, watering our boys’ vegetable plot and playing games in the long grasses.
The only thing it can’t give you is direct heat, but that’s a small price to pay for the ease of cooking one of the simplest tastiest bbq dishes around – lemon & herb spatchcock chicken.
What does spatchcock mean?
‘a chicken or game bird split open and grilled.’
‘split open (a poultry or game bird) ready for grilling.’
“these small spring chickens can be bought already spatchcocked”
Don’t worry about finding yourself an ‘already’ spatchcocked bird, just grab yourself a good pair of kitchen scissors. Easy to do and toss the backbone into the freezer ready for your next batch of chicken stock.
It’s an ideal way of cooking chicken on the bbq¹, and makes life a lot easier – say goodbye to dry chicken breast and raw leg meat. Don’t forget to rub, baste and slather with this lemon & herb sauce too – you won’t be leaving a single morsel.
¹ This recipe is written for a cook on a Traeger or pellet grill. You can do the same thing in your oven indoors or it works just as beautifully grilled over charcoal on a Kamado Joe/Green Egg/Weber.
what you’ll need
Equipment: mixing bowl. Bbq with a lid/dome. Kitchen scissors
lemon & herb spatchcock chicken:
- 1 whole chicken
for the lemon & herb sauce:
- 1 escalion shallot, finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp smoked sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp honey
to spatchcock the chicken:
Take your whole chicken, breast side up with legs pointing towards you. Flip it over and with a pair of kitchen scissors, cut down one side of the backbone all the way through. Turn the chicken around and cut down the other side, removing the backbone. Cut of the wing tips and then flip your chicken back over. Press hard down on the breasts, flattening out your chicken – you should hear a nice crunching sound.
Your chicken is now spatchcocked and ready to go. I’ll get a video up soon but here’s a link to one already if you’re struggling.
Light up your bbq and bring it to 176C.
Mix all the ingredients for the lemon & herb sauce together in a mixing bowl. With your chicken breast side down, gently rub ¼ of your sauce into the meat.
Leave for 5 minutes then flip your chicken over and rub ½ your sauce in to the breast side of the chicken.
Once your bbq is up to temp, lay your chicken breast side up over the grill and cook at 176C till the internal temperature reads 55C, 30 – 45 minutes.
Turn your bbq up to 190C for a further 5 – 10 minutes to crisp up the skin, cooking until a meat thermometer reads 65C in the breast.
Remover your chicken from the grill, brush on a little more of the sauce, and leave to rest, tented with foil, for 10 minutes.
Mix a tbsp of your lemon & herb sauce with a good amount of mayonnaise for a fun additional condiment to serve with your chicken.