Real Food: Grilled Butterflied Chicken With Balsamic Marinade

by Anne Bennett on September 24, 2009

raw-chickenI can’t remember where I got this idea for butterflying a whole chicken, but it’s been my poultry modus operandi ever since. Cooking a whole chicken this way takes less time, results in more evenly cooked meat and is much easier than having to turn separate pieces of chicken on the grill. Buy a whole chicken and ask the butcher to cut out the backbone for you and flatten the bird, like in the picture. Look at those cute chubby thighs! They don’t even fit into the picture!  (She’s discreet, though. Look at her arms. Ahhh.)

The marinade is delicious and is adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis in her cookbook, Everyday Italian. Her recipe calls for four pounds of cut-up chicken pieces which she roasts in the oven.  If you’d rather not fire up the grill, there are oven instructions below.

1 3-to-4 pound fryer chicken, backbone removed and breastbone flattened

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 T. lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
2 T. Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 t. lemon zest

(Double these amounts if you’re cooking two chickens.)

Whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Slowly add olive oil and whisk to combine. Pour over chicken, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Heat grill and if using a gas grill, turn off center burner and place chicken, skin side down, over that burner. Cover and grill for 15 minutes. Turn chicken over and continue grilling until chicken is done. Remove chicken with tongs onto a platter and cover with foil.

Pour marinade and pan juices into a small pan, first spooning off any oil that has floated to the top of the liquid. Add 1/4 cup of either water or dry white wine and bring to a boil; cook until it is slightly thickened. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with lemon zest. This marinade makes the most fabulous sauce, be sure not to skip this step. An added bonus is that if you overcook the chicken a tad, the sauce will keep it moist.


My Dinner tonight

Note: Giada roasts her chicken pieces at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Watch carefully, though, as this is a fairly high heat and you don’t want to burn the chicken. If it browns too quickly, cover it with foil during the last few minutes.

Serves: 4

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy September 28, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Anne, I am grilling this chicken as I write this. It smells soooooo delicious!! Thanks for the great idea!!

Michael Boyd October 3, 2009 at 10:34 am

This morning I visited the site and quickly found a recipe for my small dinner party – I’ll be preparing
Grilled Butterflied Chicken With Balsamic Marinade
Looks simple and quick; great for a single person entertaining 4 guests.

Thank you Hungry Poodle.

P.S. If you want to easily butterfly the chicken yourself, watch the video at:

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