Whole Grilled Chicken Studded with Garlic and Herbs

Whole Grilled Chicken Studded with Garlic & Herbs
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2-4 entree servings
Whole grilled chicken that is flattened by removing the backbone is often called spatchcock. This is one of Ryan's favorite whole chicken preparations. It's great to prep this recipe a day in advance, let it marinate, and grill it the next day.

Garlic and Oil:

Garlic, peeled – 10 cloves
Olive oil – as needed

Wet Rub:

Coriander Seeds, toasted – ½ Tbsp.
Cumin Seeds, toasted – 1 Tbsp.
Garlic, peeled & smashed – 6 cloves
Rosemary, leaves only, chopped finely – 2 Tbsp.
Thyme, leaves only, chopped finely – 1 Tbsp.
Sage, stems removed, chopped finely – 2 Tbsp.
Chipotle in adobo – 1 whole chili with sauce
Garlic Oil (reserved) – 2 Tbsp.


Whole Chicken, dressed, giblets removed – 1
Salt & Pepper – as needed

For the Garlic and Oil:

  1. Place the garlic in a small saucepan and add just enough oil to cover.
  2. Place pan over a low burner and let cook for 30 minutes to an hour, or until garlic turns golden brown. If you have a thermometer available, keep the oil temperature between 180 and 200 degrees. If not, just watch for slight gentle bubbling around the garlic. More bubbling means the heat is too high. Tip: If you have trouble keeping the heat low enough, try moving the pot so that only part of it is over the burner.
  3. Strain the garlic from the oil and set both aside to cool.

          See a video on roasting garlic here

For the Wet Rub:

  1. Pour the coriander and cumin seeds into a mortar and pestle and grind until 75% of the seeds are powder.
  2. Add the garlic and grind into a paste.
  3. Add the 3 herbs, the chipotle, and garlic oil and continue to grind, forming a paste. Be sure to grind the chipotle pepper enough that no large pieces remain. 

For the Chicken:

  1. Using poultry shears or a large knife cut on either side of the backbone to remove it. Save it for stock or discard.
  2. Next, with the chicken breast side down on a cutting board, cut through the breastplate near the keel bone (right where the 2 breasts meet) but do not cut through the skin.
  3. Remove the 2nd and 3rd wing joints by cutting in between the 1st and 2nd wing joint with a sharp knife. Reserve for another recipe (makes great stock!) or discard.
  4. Pull back the skin that covers one of the breasts. Using a sharp narrow knife (like a boning or paring knife) insert tip carefully through the breast to create pockets. Make 4 pockets in each breast and 1 in each thigh.
  5. Spoon 1 tablespoon at a time of the wet rub onto the breasts underneath the skin and massage it in with your fingers, being sure to get some of the rub into the pockets. Repeat this process for the legs until all of the rub is gone.
  6. Insert 1 clove of caramelized garlic into each pocket. Don’t worry if it gets a little mashed up.
  7. Put the skin back in place and rub the chicken front and back with garlic oil. Use enough just to coat the chicken not only on the skin, but on the back side of the chicken (what used to be the cavity).
  8. Sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  9. Grill the chicken on a preheated and well-seasoned grill until it reads an internal temperature of 160 degrees and the skin side of the chicken if wonderfully browned and toasty. This should take 15-25 minutes.
  10. Let the chicken rest (sit uncovered at room temperature) for 10 minutes, then cut it into: 4-6 breast pieces (cutting each breast into 2-3 pieces), 2 thighs, and 2 drums. 


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