Grill big this Labor Day

By Becky Krystal

Hot dogs and hamburgers are the typical cookout fare — crowd-pleasing, quick-cooking and designed for customizable, individual servings.

Maybe you’re ready to grill something different, something bigger.

Chicken Grilled Under a Brick.

Spatchcocking a whole chicken, or cutting out the backbone and flattening it, works just as well on the grill as it does in the oven, and the crisp skin can’t be beat. Alternatively, there’s no need to wait until Thanksgiving for turkey.

One of the best ways to assure that a grilled chicken’s skin is crisp and its meat is cooked through yet juicy is to spatchcock, or butterfly, the bird; see the NOTE, below.

You will need two standard masonry bricks (about 8 by 4 by 2 1/4 inches each). Wrap each one in heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Make Ahead: The spice mixture can be assembled and stored in an airtight container up to 1 week in advance.

SERVINGS:   2   4   8   12   

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • One 4-to-4 1/2-pound whole chicken, butterflied (spatchcocked; see NOTE)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


Prepare the grill for indirect heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium (375 to 400 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal; when the coals are ready, distribute them on one side of the cooking area. For a medium fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 6 to 7 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.

Whisk together the salt, pepper, sage, ancho chili powder, rosemary and thyme in a small bowl. Brush the chicken with the oil, then sprinkle the herb and spice mixture liberally all over the chicken.

Place the chicken skin side down on the grill over direct heat. Place the two foil-wrapped bricks on the chicken (vertically, one on each half). Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, then use long-handled tongs or a fireproof oven mitt to move the bricks to the side of the grill and turn the chicken over (skin side up). Cook the chicken uncovered and unweighted for 5 minutes.

Move the chicken to the indirect-heat side of the grill; place the bricks on top of it (again). Close the lid. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the interior temperature of the meat (taken away from the bone, in the thigh) registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove the bricks. Move the chicken to the direct-heat side of the grill, turning it skin side down; cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board; let it rest for 5 minutes before carving and serving.

NOTE: To spatchcock the chicken, insert a heavy knife into the cavity of the bird from the back end to the neck. Press down sharply to cut through the backbone. Alternatively, place the bird breast side down on the cutting board; use poultry shears to cut along the entire length of the backbone, as close to the center as possible. Open the bird out and flatten as much as possible.

%d bloggers like this: