Tuesday, August 14, 2012

BBQ Roasted Lemon Chicken with Garlic & Herbs

Roasting whole chickens on the BBQ is an easy and delicious way to create a luscious lunch for a crowd. This wonderful recipe relies on cooking the birds over low heat on an outdoor grill for about 2 hours, and basting the chickens every 15 to 20 minutes, for a picture perfect presentation and the most tender, moist and succulent chicken you can imagine. These BBQ Roasted Lemon Chickens with Garlic and Herbs were lovingly prepared by my friend Cory, as part of a leisurely weekend lunch up north. 

The chickens are placed on a sheet of foil with crimped sides which catch the fragrant juices, 
which the birds are basted with during cooking

Cooking the birds on an outdoor grill keeps the kitchen cool and mess-free, and also allows the intoxicating aromas to float freely and tantalize your guests as they anticipate sitting down to enjoy this superb summertime feast. Garnished with lemon slices and whatever herbs are available in the garden, Cory's chicken was outstanding, and made for an easy lunch the following day.

Cory's BBQ Roasted Lemon Chicken with Garlic & Herbs
Serves 12

3 3 to 5-pound roasting chickens
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 lemons, zested and finely chopped, reserving the lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and basil
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 whole lemons, in addition to the zested lemon, above
3 shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat an outdoor barbecue to 350°F. Remove the packet of giblets and liver from the cavity of the chickens and set aside for future use if desired. Pull any loose fat from around the opening, and rinse the chickens inside and out, patting them dry with paper towels. 

Rub the outside of the chicken with about 1 tablespoon of the softened butter. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter with the chopped lemon zest and herbs. Rub the butter on the inside of the cavities and under the skin of the breasts. Sprinkle the inside and outside of the birds with the salt and pepper. Pierce the whole lemons with a sharp knife and place in the cavity of both chickens, along with the sliced shallots and chopped garlic.

Prepare a rectangle of double thickness aluminum foil slightly smaller than the size of the grill. Fold up the four sides and crimp each corner to secure the sides in place, to catch any juices that will accumulate during cooking. Put the foil tray on the grill and place the chickens on top, breast side up. Alternatively, use a store-bought aluminum roasting tray. Cut the zested lemon in half and squeeze both halves over the chicken. 

Roast the chickens on the barbecue with the lid closed, for about 2 hours, basting every 15 to 20 minutes. The chicken is done when the legs wiggles freely in its joint and the juices run clear from the thigh when you prick it and from the cavity when you tilt the bird. Set the chickens on a warm platter and garnish with sliced lemon, parsley and mint, and allow guests to carve from the chickens as they wish.