A little more than a week ago we had a bbq for my wife Yael’s birthday. We got some wings, some Merguez sausage (spicy North African flavors which we will try to replicate sometime this year) and on the advice of Zac, a whole chicken. Zac was telling me about a style of cooking chicken whole on the grill called “leaping frog”. Thankfully, Gourmet covered this technique before they went under. In trying to find this article online, I came across the spatchcock technique which is fun to say but seems like far more work. I mean there are few things more fun than posting to your facebook status “spatchcocking a chicken” and waiting for the good times to come rolling in. That being said, I am a leap frogger and not a spatchcocker.
The idea behind leap frogging is creating a flat plane of chicken and cooking it on a covered grill over the charcoal-less side of the grill. The cooking process is easy, it is the cutting that adds any dimension of difficulty, though in reality it is quite simple.
My advice is to just follow the picture directions in the Gourmet article. But here is the quick run down:
- cut in where the leg meets the thigh
- pop the bones out of their sockets
- cut up the sides, through the ribs to the shoulders
This creates a chicken that can hinge at the shoulders. When it lies flat, it looks like a leaping frog.
To cook, you lay it over the coals for five minutes skin side down and then flip it over, move it to the side without the coals, and cook it covered, skin up, for 45 minutes (roughly, you got to check it).
As for my marinade. I actually made this dish twice. The second time was for this past Shabbat dinner. I ended up marinading longer the second time, about 4 hours, but I would like to get an overnight marinade soon. The issue was chicken availability in Jerusalem after the chagim. Both times, I created a paste of a garlic and lemon juice made with my trusty immersion blender (the zhuzher). I also added the suggested paprika, cumin and black pepper. I used smoked paprika. I also put some of the lemons under the skin of the chicken.
Frankly, I love this recipe. It is really fun and really tasty. As I continue to perfect it, I will try to get my skin even crispier without losing the juiciness of the meat. I hope you all enjoy!