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Spiced Yogurt and Herb Marinated Chicken | How to Butterfly Chicken
The benefits of marinating and cooking chicken on the bone are nearly endless. The right marinade or cooking method of a chicken can elevate this bland meat to new heights.
For this particular recipe, all the benefits of each are achieved.
- First, cooking chicken on the bone helps to keep it incredibly moist, even if overcooked and concentrates the “chicken” flavor
- The marinade for this grilled chicken recipe also serves to moisten and tenderize the chicken while also flavoring it.
- Another benefit to this recipe is that it is healthier than a barbequed chicken with a heavily sweetened glaze and its use of almost no fat, other than what is in the Greek yogurt.
1 3-4 lb. Whole Chicken, Butterflied or Spatchcocked
1 ½ Cups Plain Greek Yogurt
½ Cup Parsley
½ Cup Basil
1 Tbsp. Fennel Seed
1 Tbsp. Coriander Seed
1 Tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tbsp. Yellow Mustard Seeds
2 Lemons, Zested and Juiced
3 Garlic Cloves
Salt and Pepper To Taste
The first task at hand is to butterfly, or spatchcock, the chicken
This is an incredibly easy process, but you can always ask your butcher to do it for you if you are not comfortable with it.
How to butterfly chicken:
- Sit the chicken neck side down with the breast facing away from you.
- Place your knife on one side of the Pope’s Nose the fatty triangular at the back end of the chicken.
- Begin cutting on side of the Pope’s Nose making sure to stay close to the backbone as you move down the chicken, and continue until that side of the backbone free from the rest of the chicken.
- Simply repeat this process on the other side of the Pope’s Nose. When the backbone is free, reserve it for stock.
- Lay the chicken out breast side down and make a slit down the keel, the center bone of the chicken and around the cartilage at the bottom of keel bone and breast meat.
- Simply take your fingers and loosen the bone and cartilage from the meat and pull it out.
Now your chicken is butterflied and should lay flat. This may sound like a lot of steps or difficult, but once you do it the first time it will become much simpler.
Now it is time to start the marinade
- First begin by toasting the whole spices and red pepper flakes and cooling them.
- Crush the spices with either a mortar and pestle, or with the back of a skillet. Don’t grind them into a powder, leave it coarse.
- Add the Greek yogurt, parsley, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, crushed spices, garlic cloves and salt and pepper into a food processor and puree to combine.
- Rub the chicken down with 1 cup of the marinade and marinate for 3-4 hours.
Time to Grill
- Take the chicken out of the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel, leaving as much marinade on the chicken as possible.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat a grill on medium heat, with the front burner turned off for indirect cooking and wrap a cast iron skillet in foil or use foil wrapped bricks.
- Place the chicken skin side down on the grill and weigh the chicken down.
- Allow the chicken to cook about ¾ of the way on the skin side to achieve a crispy skin, and flip.
- Continue cooking until the breast reaches 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Rest the chicken for 10-15 minutes. While resting take the reserved marinade and whisk in olive oil until a sauce consistency is achieved and adjust the seasoning.
For convenience, use a cast iron skillet wrapped in aluminum foil on the bottom and roast a side dish of summer squash, zucchini and onions.
The result will be a healthy tender, moist and flavorful chicken with a wonderfully caramelized skin. I would suggest serving this chicken with the side dish in the note with a parsley vinaigrette or pesto and a fresh arugula salad.
Try using this same technique with other cuisines and flavor combinations. Another favorite of mine is a curry and yogurt marinated chicken. Happy cooking and enjoy!