Broiling is a high-heat cooking method that cooks very quickly, which isn't always a good technique for cooking a whole chicken, because, with chicken, it's important to cook it all the way through.
The workaround is to start with a smaller bird called (totally unsurprisingly) a "broiler," which typically weighs around two to three pounds and will feed two people each.
And then, we need to take it apart some. The goal is to flatten it out, so that it cooks quickly on one side, and then the other. A common technique is called spatchcocking, which involves removing the backbone (which can be done using a pair of kitchen shears) and then splitting the breastbone cartilage so that it will lie flat. This technique is also sometimes called "butterflying."
You can ask your butcher to do it for you, if it isn't already sold that way. Make sure the butcher wraps up the backbone for you because 1) you're paying for it anyway, and 2) it's great for making gravy or chicken stock.
Sometimes you'll get a chicken that's been split into two separate halves, and that's fine too. You can also broil quartered chickens or chicken parts.
Spatchcocking allows you to generously season both the inside and outside of the chicken, which is exactly what we'll do in this recipe.
By the way, we happen to be broiling our chicken in this recipe, but a spatchcocked chicken could also be cooked on the grill.
- 2 (2½-3 lb.) broiler chickens, halved or spatchcocked
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the broiler.
- Brush the inside and outside of the chicken halves with the melted butter. Rub the inside and outside of the chicken halves with the fresh herbs, then season to taste with the Kosher salt and black pepper.
- Place the chicken halves under the broiler, skin-side-down, about 8 inches away from the heat source. (In other words, since the chicken is under the broiler, the skin should be facing away from the heat.) Broil for 30 minutes or until the chickens are nicely browned. They should be halfway cooked at this point.
- Turn over and broil for another 20 minutes or until the skin is nicely browned but not burnt, and the chickens are completely cooked through.
- Remove from heat, cover with foil and let the chicken rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.