Just in time for Father’s Day, One Chicken, Two Meals

Just in time for Father’s Day, One Chicken, Two Meals

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Grilling

Father’s Day is this Sunday. Have you planned your menu yet? If not, take a look at this easy and simple chicken dinner. Grilling a whole chicken seems a bit intimidating, but with the backbone cut out of it, it is actually easy and quick to cook!

I just got back in town after four fun-filled days at BlogHer Food in Austin, Texas. During my absence, The Artist worked his way through the refrigerator so that by the time I got home, it was cleaned out. No problem. A quick run to the grocery store and we are stocked up again.

Raw butterflied chicken, skewered to keep it flat on the grill

I knew that as tired as I was, I didn’t want to spend a ton of time on a complicated meal. What could I make that was quick, easy, and uncomplicated? Grilled chicken fit the bill perfectly! I asked the butcher to butterfly it for me (cutting out the backbone) so that it would cook faster and I was on my way. A few fresh vegetables and dinner was planned.

I picked up a bunch of asparagus spears and sliced some Vidalia onions (thanks to the Vidalia Onion Committee) that I knew would be delicious grilled and could also be the foundation for other dishes for later in the week. Virtually any vegetable can be cooked on the grill so don’t forget to buy some extras when you are at the market and cook them up alongside your proteins!

To help the chicken remain flat while it is cooking and to give it a little more structure, I used two metal skewers, one passing through the thighs and breast, the other inserted just below the rounded ends of the wings. This helps you move it around on the grill more easily, just don’t forget that the metal gets hot and will burn you. Use tongs to move it around the grill.

Rather than fuss with a wet brine or taking the time for a dry rub to penetrate the meat, I chose to go with my fallback favorite, brushing the outside of the chicken with salad dressing. I reached for my homemade balsamic vinaigrette that would impart a subtle flavor – perfect!

The chicken cooks mostly unattended, giving you time to set the table, grill the vegetables, and prepare the rest of your meal. Keep an eye on it and if it looks like it is cooking too quickly or starting to burn, move it to the cooler side of the grill and lower the heat if possible.

Create this delicious side dish with the vegetables you grilled alongside the chicken!

This may not be the most elegant meal you’ve ever made, but I promise your dad will love it and be begging you to repeat it every week just for him! Change up the seasonings, the vegetables you grill alongside, maybe try adding a splash of barbecue sauce right at the end and you’ve got an entirely different meal!

Happy Father’s Day to the men in your lives and I hope you all enjoy this simple, easy and quick meal preparation.

Jane’s Tips and Hints:

For your second meal, combine the chopped grilled vegetables with cooked rice, a little olive oil and fresh herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat if needed before serving.

Gluten-Free Tips:

Make your own balsamic vinaigrette to assure no cross-contamination with gluten ingredients. Most seasonings are gluten-free, but always check with the producer to guarantee your safety.

Whole Grilled Butterflied Chicken

© 2013 Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook. All rights reserved.

Technique inspired by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt on seriouseats.com

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


  • 1 (3 to 3-1/2 lb) whole chicken, backbone cut out and giblets discarded
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Balsamic vinaigrette
  • Assorted vegetables such as onions, zucchini, asparagus, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc. larger pieces cut in half
  • Olive oil
Read the whole recipe on The Heritage Cook