Posted by: tinkande | May 8, 2009

Tuscan Lemon Chicken


The house was cool, the grill was not.

A couple of weeks ago I pulled a whole chicken out of the freezer in hopes of figuring out what to do with it by the time it defrosted. I would have done my usual roast chicken with lemon, garlic, and herbs, but it was so hot out that I didn’t want to turn the oven on. I had remembered seeing Ina Garten grill a whole butterflied chicken on an episode of Barefoot Contessa, so I went to find the recipe on The Food Network website. Once I figured out how to take out the backbone and butterfly the chicken (I used my Joy of Cooking cookbook for instructions), it was smooth sailing from there. We loved this recipe – it had that great smoky, grilled flavor, and it was the perfect solution to cooking a whole chicken without heating up the entire house with a hot oven. Ours took a bit longer to cook through than the recipe indicates (about 45 minutes total).

Tuscan Lemon Chicken
Source: Ina Garten/The Food Network
Serves 3-4

1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, flattened
Kosher salt
1/3 cup good olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved

Notes on how I prepared the chicken (following instructions from the Joy of Cooking):
Remove and discard any packaging and giblets/neck in the cavity of the chicken. Rinse well under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Place the bird breast side down on a cutting board. Cut the chicken along one side of the backbone being careful not to cut through all the way to the breast side. Turn the chicken 180 degrees on the cutting board and cut down the other side of the backbone to remove it completely. Then, flip the bird over and flatten with your hand.

Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt on each side. Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a small measuring cup. Place the chicken in a ceramic or glass dish just large enough to hold it flat. Pour the lemon marinade over the chicken, turning it in the dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Turn the chicken 2 or 3 times while marinating.

When ready to grill, prepare a hot charcoal fire on 1 side of a grill (or turn a gas grill on low heat). Spread most of the coals across half of the grill. Place the chicken, skin side up, on the opposite side of the grill and place the dish you used for marinating on top of the chicken to weight it. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the underside is golden brown. Turn the chicken skin side down, weight again with the dish, and cook for another 12 to 15 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. (Note: our chicken took longer than this to cook through – about 45 minutes rather than 30. It will depend on how hot the “low” setting on your grill is). Place the lemon halves on the cool side of the grill, cut side down for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Remove the chicken to a plate or cutting board, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Cut in quarters, sprinkle with salt, and serve with the grilled lemon halves.



  1. What are the green items to the left of the chicken in your photo?? Sounds like a great idea…I have never prepared a chicken this way…only read about it.

  2. The green items are pesto orzo. We had some pesto leftover in the fridge so that’s what we went with!

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