I’M ALWAYS SO busy extolling the virtues of the quick-cooking boneless chicken breast, I neglect my true favorite—the whole roasted chicken. Talk about easy. First I try to find 4-to-5-pound chickens; they cook evenly in about 60 minutes. I take the whole chicken and rub it with oil, salt and pepper. The seasoned bird goes right into a disposable aluminum-foil pan. No beer-can shenanigans, no spatchcocking, just a chicken in a pan on a grill.
The trick is to cook it over indirect heat. (If you place that chicken, even in a pan, over direct heat, you will have a grease fire in no time.) On a charcoal grill, this means placing the coals on either side of the grill, with the chicken, in its pan, in the middle part of the grill. On a gas grill, you place the chicken, in its pan, on the preheated grill with the heat on on either side for a three-burner grill, or just on one side for a two-burner grill. Cover the grill and let the chicken, assuming it’s 4 to 5 pounds, cook for 50 to 75 minutes—the exact timing will depend on the size of the chicken and the variables of outdoor cooking—with the grill heat hovering between 375 and 400 degrees.
I love this method for many reasons. First, it makes a very juicy chicken, which I cannot replicate in the oven. Second, barely any clean-up. And third, it’s so easy. You walk in the door, preheat the grill, season the chicken and onto the grill it goes. After 30 minutes, it’s good to turn the pan around, especially on a two- burner grill, but that’s about it. When the temperature reaches 165/170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, you and the chicken are golden.
You don’t need to make a plain chicken: You can season with an herb paste, glaze with barbecue sauce toward the end of cooking or make a spicy marinade and let the chicken marinate until you’re ready to cook it. I’m partial to lemon zest and juice, oregano and garlic, mashed into a paste with olive oil, salt and pepper. The garlic chars a little in the grill, but it flavors the chicken beautifully.
—Stephanie Witt Sedgwick
LittleBird “Stephanie Cooks” thinks about dinner every Monday.