Tag Archives: grilling

Happy Spatchcock Chicken with Basil Marinade

When you buy whole happy chickens from local farmers like Bill and I do and your kitchen temperature stays in the 80-degree range most of the summer, roasting a chicken in the oven is not an option. And, I’m a bit lazy about cutting a chicken up into pieces to cook in other ways.

Instead, I do a spatchcock (splayed) whole chicken on the grill, which keeps the cooking heat outside the house.

This recipe was inspired by Stephen Raichlen’s Spatchcocked Game Hens Under a Brick with Basil Marinade. (For other recipes by the man who “reinvented the barbeque,” check out The Barbecue Bible.)

In my adaptation, I used one chicken and adjusted the time accordingly. Since our chicken was just under four pounds, the rest of the ingredient quantities stayed about the same because, in total, it’s about four pounds of meat.

Spatchcock Chicken

One 4-lb. chicken

1 bunch basil

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup water

I don’t have the prettiest basil in my garden but at least it’s organic.

For the recipe, I snipped the top leaves off several of the plants. Is this “a bunch” like the recipe calls for? Hard to know. I just went with what I had. Believe me, the flavor was excellent.

If you don’t have that much basil, you can combine basil with fresh thyme and rosemary for a delicious herb-infused marinade. I’ve tried that before when my basil yield was low.

Combine all the ingredients except the chicken in a food processor to make the marinade.

Here’s the blended marinade.

This is one of the last chickens we got from Tom Cary, who raised them in the pastures of Lubbers Farm last year. It’s been in our freezer since last summer. Once the chicken was thawed, I put it in the sink to perform surgery.

Poultry shears are a must for this operation, and a handy tool to have in the kitchen. Ever since I took a cooking class in Tuscany, Italy a few years ago, I learned how empowering it is to know how to cut up poultry (something I never learned before because of the convenient factory farm chicken I used to buy in the grocery store). But you’ve got to have the right tools. I love my Oxo Good Grips poultry shears. (It’s important to wash these in very hot soapy water, or run them through the dishwasher after use on poultry.)

The first step in the operation is to remove the backbone (and neck if it’s still intact). It’s so easy with shears. Just cut along both sides of the bone and remove. (Remember to save the backbone for stock!)

The next step is more difficult and I’m not sure if I even did it right. First you open up the bird, like opening a book, and gently pull the halves apart. Then, use a sharp paring knife to score the top of the breastbone. Run your thumbs along and under the sides of the breastbone and attached cartilage and pop them out. (I usually end up using a knife.) Then spread the bird out flat.

Flip the bird over and cut slits in the skin between the lower end of the breastbone and the leg so you can tuck the drumstick in.

Then put the chicken in a glass or ceramic dish and pour the marinade over the meat, covering both sides.

After marinading in the fridge for four hours or more, it’s time to preheat the grill to medium heat. Meanwhile, locate a brick. Yes, just a regular household brick. Or anything heavy and fireproof.

Cover it well with foil.

When the grill is around 350 degrees, put the chicken on, skin side down and place the brick on the chicken.

For a 4-lb. chicken, grill on each side about 20-25 minutes on medium heat. You can see we probably did this side a little too long (25 minutes with both burners on).

So when we did the other side, we turned the center burner off and only grilled it for 20 minutes. At this point, we put some steamed Butterball Potatoes from Visser Farms on the grill. I got this recipe from Lauri Sisson of Pereddies’ Restaurant at the Holland Farmers Market Chef Series demo in June.

She baked them in the oven but they are really good on the grill, too.

Once the chicken is done, it’s important to let it rest a few minutes under foil.

Serve with potatoes and salad.

Don’t forget to boil the carcass for stock. This chicken dish renders a delicious rich stock infused with herbs.

Hot Off the Grill

Here’s another post written and photographed by my friends Isa and Jo while I was on vacation. I really appreciate their help! (Check out their first blog post on tapas, too.)

On July 17, Christine Ferris of Christine Ferris Catering prepared for us Grilled Roulades, Smoked Tomato Sauce for Pizza or Pasta and Grilled Peaches With Brandy.

Chris made good jokes and shared her experience of cooking with us. She cooks, grills and prepares food with fun and joy for as many as 500 people and sometimes even more. She told us also good tips and tricks, which were very helpful for us.

Chris also had a couple of good stories to tell us. One of them was this one: Many years ago she worked as a housemaid in Australia. At this time she was watching the space capsule on television, while she was grating. She was so excited that she wasn’t watching her fingers and then she suddenly grated her finger. Now she still gets a little scared from it. That’s why she has respect for the grater.
Grilled Zucchini Roulades Filled with Herbed Goat Cheese

Smoked Tomato Sauce for Pizza or Pasta

Grilled Peaches with Brandy

Here are the recipes she followed:

She also provided some useful tips for grilling and buying herbs as well as goat cheese:

1. How to clean the grill
 Clean the grill with a brush, then roll a towel and dip it into water, clean the grill with the wet towel, then dip another towel into oil, rub the grill with it.
 2.   How to pour oil on the grill
Start with the side which is further away from you and then go slowly toward you.

3. Where to buy the chips for the grill for Smoked Tomato Sauce for Pizza or Pasta
 You can buy them at store such as Meijer if you live in West Michigan.

4. How to cut herbs
 😦 Don’t cut fast with a dull knife because there won’t be any of the good oils left which give their flavor.
 🙂 Take a sharp knife and roll the herbs gently to a little roll and cut them.

5. Which garlic is the best?
 Buy the garlic that is full; don’t buy chopped garlic because it doesn’t taste very good.
If there are green sprouts growing out of the clove take them out, because they taste bitter.

6. Which goat cheese to use for the Grilled Zucchini Roulades
 The best goat cheese is the fresh cheese from Visser Farm.

Pork Steak on the Grill

During oven season, which–in Michigan–runs from about September through May, Bill and I like to braise pork steaks, which we have been buying from Creswick Farms through the West Michigan Co-op until we get our meat order at Lubbers Farm later this summer.

Now that it’s grilling season, I wondered how I could cook pork steaks outside, since they are a relatively new entity in my world. (I’d never heard of them until I bought half a pig a couple years ago). 

Last weekend I got this idea: Why not grill a pork steak the way we grill a ribeye? Both steaks are from grassfed animals so the key is to grill them for a short period of time. Bill insists the one-minute sear per side is key, and I agree–that’s how it stays moist.

At first I was inspired by Muzzy’s Magic Texas BBQ Rub, which is made of: sugar, chili pepper, paprika, salt, garlic, onion, celery, cumin, and black pepper. With sugar as the lead ingredient, it was a bit sweet for me, so I decided to use the rub in combination with the Grilled Grassfed Ribeye Steak recipe I posted in March. Here’s how I improvised:

I mixed the rub with about a teaspoon more paprika, then added some more salt, cumin, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. After rubbing the meat with garlic and olive oil, I sprinkled the spice rub on both sides.

For the pork steak, we seared each side for one minute on a very hot grill (around 500 degrees) with the center burner off. Then we cooked each side for 3 minutes (for a one-pound,  3/4-inch steak). After that, we let it rest, covered, for at least 5 minutes.

Instead of the balsamic-caper vinaigrette from the recipe, I simply squeezed some fresh lime juice on the meat before serving. We couldn’t believe how juicy the meat was!

For sides, we had saffron risotto and roasted asparagus (done in foil on the grill before we put the meat on).