GRILLED BUTTERFLIED CHICKEN WITH CHARRED JALAPEÑO SAUCE
Once it gets hot out, grilling becomes my go-to for weeknight dinners (and weekend entertaining!). It's simple, healthy and you can grill just about anything. I know because I do throw on everything - from your standard barbecue fare to split romaine hearts to potatoes. A good, grilled chicken is second-to-none, crispy, seasoned skin with tender, smoky meat underneath - and the butterflying technique means you get both of your wishes: evenly cooked meat plus super crackly skin. Plus, it's easy, and there's no marination or brining necessary to have delicious grilled chicken.
This sauce (like many other recipes!) came out of a need to use up what I had. I went to the market, and I didn't find any poblanos, which were my first choice. But they shouldn't have been! The jalapeños are perfect here, and the sauce has a spicy, acidic kick and a creamy (with no cream..) texture. It's perfect with this chicken, but I could also see this with a pork chop, a lamb sirloin or even a whole grilled fish. Happy grilling!
For the chicken:
Handful of wood chips wrapped in foil ( optional; I like to use applewood)
1 whole chicken, 3 ½ to 4 lbs
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
½ teaspoons ground black pepper
For the sauce (yields approx. 2/3 cup):
8 jalapenos, whole
3-4 pickled cherry peppers along with 4-5 tablespoons of the pickling liquid
1 garlic clove
1 ½ teaspoons honey
Small handful of cilantro (stems + leaves)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Set up your grill for indirect grilling, either piling charcoal on one side or turning only half the burners on. I like the inside of my grill to linger around 400-450˚ F. We're going to cook the chicken on the side without direct heat for the majority of the time and then finish it over the high heat to crisp the skin and get that char. This is a good time to throw on the wood chips as well which will give a great smoky flavor to the chicken, but it's totally optional.
For the chicken: Butterflying a chicken isn't as complicated as it sounds. Start with the chicken breast-side down and have some kitchen shears by your side. Starting at the bottom of the bird, cut along each side of the backbone straight through the ribs to the neck opening. Set aside the backbone and giblets and reserve for making stock. Take each side of the flaps in front of you and open the chicken up flat. Flip onto the other side and press down on the breastbone to flatten (you'll hear a crack at some point!). Done.
Mix together the garlic powder, sweet paprika, onion powder, oregano, and black pepper. Coat the chicken lightly in oil and sprinkle the dry rub all over. Your hands are already messy, so just go ahead and rub it in good. Then, season generously with salt all over.
Make sure to oil your grill as well, and place the chicken breast up on the side without the charcoal or the burners. I like to face the legs towards the heat source and the neck side away since the legs typically take a bit longer. Cover your grill and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. I like to check for doneness with a cake tester or (very) small knife inserted at the thigh joint - if inserted to the bone and pulled out it's hot, the meat is done. You can conversely make sure it's cooked to about 150-155˚ F. For the last 3 to 5 minutes, I flip the bird over, skin and breast side down, over the direct heat side of the grill. This makes sure you get that thin, crispy skin.
Allow the bird to rest for about 5 to 7 minutes before carving.
For the sauce: While the bird is cooking, throw the jalapeños right over the direct heat side and char on all side. The skin should turn black and blistered. Transfer to a plastic bag while it cools. When cool enough to handle, use a paper towel to rub off the charred skin. Then, with a knife, remove the stem, ribs and seeds. Chop roughly.
Transfer the jalapeños to a blender and add the pickled cherry peppers, pickling liquid, garlic, honey and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Run the blender and then stream in the oil as needed to create the sauce. I like to just get the blade moving and make sure the sauce is uniform and not too thick. It should look creamy and coat a spoon. Remember to taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Serve the chicken hot with the sauce on the side.