This juicy grilled whole chicken is brushed with a rich and tangy barbecue sauce made of dried chilies and beer. It’s the perfect recipe to ring in a season of grilling.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma Poultry – Home of ROCKY® and ROSIE® Chicken.
This probably sounds silly, but the first time I grilled a whole chicken, I considered it a huge culinary accomplishment. I say it sounds silly now because it is really not that difficult at all.
It looks fancy, sure. But it’s one of the most hands-off forms of grilling you can do. Once you rub down the bird with the herbs and seasonings of your choice, you simply place it on the grill and let it cook while all that flavor gets sealed inside.
I find grilling the whole bird much easier than grilling individual pieces. There is no flipping, at least not for me. You can flip it. I’ll explain later. The end result is much more rewarding, too. Grilled whole chicken is so much juicier than the individual pieces.
Finally, it provides a much more impressive result. You know, in case you need to wow anyone with your grilling skills. This will do it. No doubt.
I’ve been partnering with Petaluma Poultry over the past year to share my love of cooking the whole bird. Last week they sent along some ROCKY® The Free Range Chicken so I could do some grilling, just in time for Father’s Day and the rest of the grilling days of summer.
As you might know, I have a cookbook coming out in October and it’s all about cooking with beer. So when I knew I was going to prepare this chicken for the grill, I wanted to pair it with a sauce that would stand out from your typical sweet or smoky barbecue sauce. Beer was the answer, as it often is.
I’ve recently become a big fan of using dried chilies for blending into sauces. It’s not about the heat. The varieties I use aren’t spicy at all. But once toasted in a skillet, they add such a complex flavor to the sauce. It’s a simple step that does wonders for the flavor. Once you toast them, soak them in hot water, and blend into the sauce.
Then comes the beer. With mildly sweet and smoky flavors that come from the chilies, tomato sauce, and molasses, a lager completes the sauce adding just the right balance.
I didn’t want to leave the flavoring only to the sauce for this chicken, though, so I mixed up a quick and easy dry rub to coat it before grilling.
A new summer recipe was born.
Now, let’s back up and talk about how exactly to grill a whole chicken because you can’t simply toss the whole thing on the grill. There are a couple simple steps to prep.
You’ve likely seen this method referred to as spatchcocking. This is essentially the method I use. All you need is a good pair of kitchen shears. Working from the bottom of the chicken, moving towards the top, cut along each side of the backbone and remove it. Flip the chicken over and press down on the breast bone to flatten. There you have it.
There are a few different methods for grilling a whole chicken flattened in this way. Medium heat, about 350 degrees F, is the most common temperature. Then some people grill the bird breast-side down to char it a bit, then flip it and let it cook breast-side up for the remaining time. Others start it breast-side up. Cook it pretty well the whole way through and then flip it for the last 10 minutes or so to crisp up the breast.
I do neither of these. Especially when I’m coating it with a sauce. I place it breast-side up on the grill, and there it stays for its whole cooking time. I find the skin on top browns just fine without disturbing the bird at all. Most chickens will take about 50 to 60 minutes to reach the suggested 165 degrees F internal temperature. About 45 minutes or so in, I brush it with the sauce once, and then again a few minutes later. Repeat the brushing as desired until the chicken is done.
Using the whole bird, really is the best way to grill a chicken. Pair this one with a salad and some sauce on the side and dinner is served.
Dry-rubbed Whole Grilled Chicken with Chili-Lager Barbecue Sauce
Makes 4 to 6 servings
What you’ll need:
2 mild dried chilies such as Guajillo
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark molasses
4 ounces lager
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder (any of your favorite variety or heat level)
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1, 4 1/2 to 5 pound whole chicken, backbone removed and flattened
Fresh oregano leaves
How to make it:
Place the dried chilies in a dry skillet. Toast over medium-high, tossing in the skillet, until you begin to smell the aroma, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a heat safe bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce, onion, garlic, brown sugar, and molasses to a blender. Cover and puree for 30 seconds.
Remove the chilies from the water, remove and discard the stem and seeds. Chop. Add the chilies, beer, salt, and pepper to the sauce. Puree another 30 seconds until all ingredients are finely chopped and the sauce is mostly smooth. Transfer to a medium sauce pan.
Simmer over medium-low to medium heat, partially covered for 20 to 30 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Stir occasionally.
For the chicken, stir all the spices together in a small bowl. Make slits in the chicken skin and rub the chicken generously with the spices, pushing some under the skin.
Preheat the grill to medium heat, about 350 degrees F. Place the chicken on the grill breast-side up. Grill for 45 minutes, until the skin is browned well. Transfer half of the sauce to a bowl and reserve for serving. Brush the remaining sauce over the chicken in two or three rounds. Continue to grill until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 10 more minutes.
Serve garnished with fresh oregano and sauce on the side.