Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken with Orange and Ginger

Orange-Ginger Chicken, spatchcocked and grilled! "Spatchcocked" is just a fancy way of saying "butterflied." It's easy and helps the chicken cook evenly. The orange-ginger marinade also makes the chicken moist and flavorful.

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Photography Credit: Sally Vargas

This chicken with a funny name (“spatchcocked”?!) is a boon for grillers.

Spatchcocked chickens say moist when grilled over low heat – no fear of dry, tasteless grilled chicken with this recipe!

Combine this with a tasty ginger-orange marinade, and you’ve got one fantastic summer meal.

Ginger-Orange Spatchcocked ChickenSo what is spatchcocking, anyway?

Spatchcocked chicken is really just the same as butterflied chicken with another name. The name originated from the name for small, young birds, but it eventually morphed into the name of the cooking technique.

The process involves removing the backbone from the chicken and then pressing it flat (a.k.a. butterflying, which is where the other name for this technique comes from).

The advantage, both in the oven and on the grill, is that the bird cooks more evenly, and sometimes faster. Maybe more importantly, it is much easier to cut into serving pieces!

You can ask the butcher at the meat counter to spatchcock the chicken for you, or you can do it yourself. All you need is a sturdy pair of kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Cut along the backbone on either side and remove it completely, then flatten the chicken by pressing down on the breast bone.

Once you get the hang of it, it’s very easy!

If your grill is large enough, you could double up and make two chickens at once. The leftovers are great in salads or sandwiches all week long.

Also, leave the chicken in the orange ginger marinade for as long as you can — at least two hours or overnight. This guarantees a juicy, flavorful bird

Need some more help to spatchcock your own chicken? Check out our video: How to Spatchcock (Butterfly) a Chicken!

Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken with Orange and Ginger Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Marinating time: 2 hours to overnight
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ask your butcher to spatchcock the chicken for you, or do it yourself following the directions in Step 1 of the recipe.

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 1 (4-pound) chicken
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oil, for the grill 

For the marinade:

  • 1 orange, zest and juice (about 1/2 tablespoon zest and 1/3 cup juice)
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, crushed (or 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Special equipment:

Method

1 Spatchcock the chicken (if not already spatchcocked at the butcher): With kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut along each side of the backbone (cutting through the rib bones) and remove it. Save it for stock, if you like.

Turn the chicken over so it is lying breast side up on the cutting board. Press firmly on the breastbone to flatten it.

Pat the chicken dry, and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Place it in a baking dish.

Ginger-Orange Spatchcocked Chicken Ginger-Orange Spatchcocked Chicken Ginger-Orange Spatchcocked Chicken

2 Make the marinade: In a small bowl, stir together the orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, ginger, olive oil, honey, coriander, paprika and salt. Pour the marinade over the chicken, turning to coat.

Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight, turning occasionally in the marinade.

Ginger-Orange Spatchcocked Chicken

3 Prepare a gas or charcoal grill: If using a gas grill, set one side to high temperature and the other side to low temperature. Heat the grill to at least 450F.

If using a charcoal grill, prepare a two-level fire. Arrange two-thirds of the charcoal on one side of the grill and spread the remaining one-third on the other side.

When your gas or charcoal grill is hot, use tongs to oil the grill grates with a small folded piece of paper towel dipped in oil.

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4 Grill the chicken: Set the chicken on the cool side of the grill with the skin side up and legs facing the hot side. Cover with the lid and cook for 20 minutes.

Rotate the chicken, still skin-side up, so that the breast side is closer to the hot side. Continue to cook for another 10 to 20 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer registers at least 165F when inserted into both the thigh and breast.

(Exact cooking time will depend on the heat of your grill and the size of the bird, so always double-check the internal temperature.)

5 Crisp the skin: Once the chicken has cooked through, carefully flip the chicken over onto the hot side of the grill. Cook for an additional 1 to 3 minutes, or until the skin is brown and crisp.

Ginger-Orange Spatchcocked Chicken

6 Let the chicken rest: Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve.

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Sally Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas is a freelance writer and the author of three cookbooks (Food for Friends, The Tao of Cooking, Ten Speed Press, and The Cranberry Cookbook). She currently writes the column The Confident Cook for The Boston Globe along with seasonal recipes for the Wednesday Food Section.

More from Sally

7 Comments

  1. Malika Black

    This is a great way to grill a whole chicken!
    Marinating overnight is always best for me! More flavor.
    Thanks for the detailed instructions Sally!

  2. Rosalee Adams

    how can this be prepared without a grill? I do not have access to one
    Thanks for any help as this sounds amazing.
    Never tire of chicken

  3. Bebe

    This sounds like a great marinade and cooking method for those Foster Farms leg-thigh parts that are so often on sale.

  4. Sandy S.

    This recipe sounds so good! Thank you for the detailed instructions.

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Ginger-Orange Spatchcocked ChickenSpatchcocked Grilled Chicken with Orange and Ginger