1 3½- to 4-pound free-range, cornfed, or naturally raised chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil (if broiling the chicken)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and parsley — whatever's available
1. Soak the chicken for 5 minutes in a large bowl filled with warm water to cover, to relax the fl esh. Drain and dry the bird thoroughly with paper towels.
2. Butterfly the chicken by cutting down both sides of the backbone with poultry shears or sharp heavy scissors and removing the backbone (freeze it to use later for stock). Open out the bird, place it skin side up on the cutting board, and press down fi rmly with the palms of your hands to fl atten the bird as much as you can. Pat dry again.
To grill the chicken
Prepare a fire in a kettle grill, such as a Weber. Fill a chimney starter all the way to the top with hardwood charcoal. Light the chimney as usual. When the coals are white, dump them out and place the grate over the coals. Wait for 10 minutes.
It is important to begin grilling the chicken with the skin side down — if not, the skin will not crisp well. Liberally salt and pepper the chicken and place it skin side down in the middle of the grill. Cover immediately and open the vent holes in the lid. Grill for 3 minutes, then turn the chicken 90 degrees, still skin side down, to create crosshatched grill marks on the skin. Cover the grill again and cook the chicken without moving it for an additional 6 minutes.
Turn the chicken over, cover, and grill until cooked through, about 15 minutes; an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh should register 165 degrees. (Or you can move the chicken off the direct heat to cook more slowly and give you time to make accompanying dishes.)
Just before serving, melt the butter in a small skillet and stir in the chopped herbs, along with a little salt and pepper. Quarter the chicken. Place on a plate, drizzle the herb butter over it, and serve right away.
To broil the chicken
Heat the broiler. Rub the chicken with the olive oil, season well with salt and pepper, and place it skin side up in a shallow baking pan.
Place the pan under the broiler 4 inches from the heat source and cook until the skin is perfectly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook for 5 minutes. Then turn the chicken skin side up again and cook until the skin is really crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F.
Just before serving, melt the butter in a small skillet and stir in the chopped herbs, along with a little salt and pepper. Quarter the chicken. Place on a platter, drizzle the herb butter over it, and serve right away.
From A Great American Cook, published by Houghton Mifflin; $35