Cut Me Smash Me Burn Me: Spatchcock Chicken Under Bricks

Cut Me Smash Me Burn Me Chicken
I’ve always been impressed with photos of “How to Spatchcock a Chicken”, but it seemed a bit intimidating. Couldn’t be farther from the truth; it’s so easy it may become your new standard preparation of a whole bird! Grilling the chicken under a brick comes naturally with a spatchcocked bird as it is opened up and flattened out. We have ground cherries from our CSA box, so we’ll make some ground cherry chutney to serve as a condiment for the chicken.

Spatchcock Chicken is beautifully browned and so easy to do!

Spatchcock Chicken is beautifully browned and so easy to do!

Wine Pairing Exploration with Cut Me Smash Me Burn Me Chicken
Chicken prepared on the grill can bridge from an easy white wine pairing into a possible match with a mid-weight red and we always have fun trying new combinations. In our continuing love affair with Piemonte (Piedmont) wines, we’re exploring beyond the normal Arneis and Barolo.  Today we’re trying wines from a bit north of the Langhe and Roero, home of the popular Arneis and Barolo / Barbaresco. 

Erbaluce is the white on the left, Coste della Sesia Nebbiolo on the right

Erbaluce di Caluso on the left, Coste della Sesia Nebbiolo on the right

Ferrando “La Torrassa” Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG 2011 ($20 locally)

Erbaluce is a lesser known white grape from a bit farther north in the Piemonte, and it can be made in several different versions: still, sparkling, and sweet. We have the still wine which should be a nice pairing with our summer meal.
Eye: Deep yellow. Clear, but a touch of cloudiness. A touch frizzante on opening.
Nose: Rich, almost sweet nose, like a super ripe pear.
Mouth: Medium mouthfeel, nice and crisp, even a touch of bitterness in the finish. Abundant acidity.

This Erbaluce is, well, dark yellow.

This Erbaluce is, well, dark yellow.

Clerico Massimo Coste della Sesia Nebbiolo DOC 2010 ($33 locally)
Eye: Beautiful bright clear red, a touch of orange at the edge.
Nose: Tar up front, bright red fruit but not red candy.
Mouth: Red raspberries, lean, good acidity and definite tannins in the finish.
Definitely recognizable as Nebbiolo, easily seems like a Piemontese Nebbiolo.

Spanna is another of the many names of the Nebbiolo grape

Spanna is another of the many names of the Nebbiolo grape

The Pairing
I need to be honest, I wanted the Clerico Massimo Nebbiolo to work well with this meal, and it wasn’t bad. Wines made from the Nebbiolo grape are my “desert island” wines.  When people ask if I have a favorite wine, I try to defer, because I like to choose the best pairing with the meal.  I liked this wine very much, I definitely liked it on it’s own better than the Erbaluce. The grilled chicken and veggies had plenty of mouth-filling richness to stand up to the bright acidity and tannins in the red wine. 

White or Red, which was the winner?

White or Red, which was the winner?

Alas, the Ferrando Erbaluce was the better match with the meal.  It presented a rich mouthfeel, but it maintained a bright acidity and and the white fruit notes just worked better with the chicken.  Both wines were very nice, and for a “red wine only” drinker, the Clerico Massimo would be a good choice.  At the end of the day, the Erbaluce was the winner!

It may be a bit hard to find, but Erbaluce di Caluso is worth the search!

It may be a bit hard to find, but Erbaluce di Caluso is worth the search!

Spatchcock Chicken Grilled Under Bricks with Ground Cherry Chutney

Cut Me Smash Me Burn Me Spatchcock Chicken

Adapted from a recipe in Eating Well Magazine

Ingredients

  • 3 lb. whole fryer chicken
  • handful of fresh herbs – I used sage today.  Rosemary & thyme is another good choice
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • High temperature oil, like canola for brushing on the grill and the outer skin of the chicken

Instructions

  • Wrap 2 good size bricks in heavy duty aluminum foil and place them on the grill.
  • Preheat the grill (with the bricks) for 30 minutes on medium
  • Mix the herbs (I leave sage whole, it’s so pretty) with the EVOO, salt and pepper.
  • Dry the chicken with paper towels and lay the chicken on a cutting board with it’s back up
  • Using a heavy pair of kitchen scissors start at the tail, cut up one side of the spine all the way to the top.
It's really easy, just cut up either side of the spine.

It’s really easy, just cut up either side of the spine.

  • Repeat, cutting up the other side of the spine.
  • Flip the bird over, lay it out and press firmly with your thumbs or even the base of your hands to break the breast apart. 
You need to break the breastplate to allow the bird to lay flat out.  It's not hard!

You need to break the breastplate to allow the bird to lay flat out. It’s not hard!

  • Make pockets under the skin and slip the herbs underneath.  They add a nice mild flavor to the finished bird.
  • Brush the outer skin with high temperature oil and oil the grill grate carefully
  • Place the chicken, skin side down on the grill.  Cover with the two bricks.
The hot bricks help cook the chicken from both the top and the bottom.

The hot bricks help cook the chicken from both the top and the bottom.

  • Halfway through cooking, carefully remove the bricks and flip the chicken.  Replace the bricks (remember, they are HOT).
Beautiful grill marks!

Beautiful grill marks!

  • The trickiest part is to know how long to cook the chicken.  I’m still dialing it in for my grill, so you’ll want to watch closely the first few times you try it.  3 lb chicken, Weber grill at medium, 15 minutes per side was just about right.  Use an instant read thermometer and look for 165° F in the deepest part of the breast or thigh.

Ground Cherry Chutney

adapted from a recipe at The Paisley Carrot.

Ingredients

  • 1 pint container of ground cherries with skins, yielding 1 cup of ground cherries
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Directions

  • Place the sugar and 2 Tbsp. water in a saucepan, heat on medium stirring until it bubbles and carmelizes, turning a golden color.
  • As the sauce thickens, add the onion, garlic and vinegar
  • Add the ground cherries and golden raisins
  • Adjust heat to keep at a very gentle boil and cook for 15 minutes
  • Serve the chutney either warm or cool.
  • Will hold in the fridge for at least a week.

Serve with: Grilled fresh carrots, grilled leeks, corn on the cob

Wine Pairing: Crisp white wines work the best.  Erbaluce di Caluso, a white wine from the Piemonte region of Italy was wonderful. Also from Italy, Arneis or Gavi would work well.  Chardonnay (if not too oaky) or white Rhones would be nice, too.

Comments
5 Responses to “Cut Me Smash Me Burn Me: Spatchcock Chicken Under Bricks”
  1. Fred Petters says:

    Nice Jeff!

  2. chef mimi says:

    I do love an oven-roasted chicken, but otherwise I spatchcock! Great looking wine… and meal…

  3. I’ll have to look for those two at my wine stores locally – I haven’t spatchcocked in a while, thanks for the reminder!

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