Just plain ole butterflied and grilled chicken is good, but why not “kick it up a notch” (as Emeril Lagasse was always fond of saying)? Butterflied and Grilled Za’atar Chicken combines olive oil with garlic, sumac, za’atar, and citrus zest in an exotically spiced rub. The butterflied and rubbed chicken gets glazed with a pomegranate molasses, citrus juice, and honey mixture. Simple and amazing!
Don’t you love a whole chicken roasted or grilled? It’s so simple, but when properly cooked, it can be quite elegant. I’ll take that a step further… Butterflied and Grilled Za’atar Chicken is both elegant and exotic. I’m equally comfortable serving it on a weeknight and for guests. Try Butterflied and Grilled Za’atar Chicken with Zereshk and Pistachio Pilaf and Spinach and Persimmon Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette for your next dinner party. All 3 are easily scaled up or down.
You may recall the emphasis I place on keeping a A Well-Stocked Pantry? This grilled chicken may require ingredients you don’t typically have – za’atar, sumac, and pomegranate molasses. All 3 are included on my pantry checklist. I love knowing I’ve got ingredients available
without a store run that allow me to throw together an amazing dish like this one with the whole chicken that is almost always in my freezer! It’s freeing… 🙂
Feature Ingredient: Za’atar
So, what then, is za’atar? Do you enjoy trivia (like I do)? “Za’atar” historically refers to Origanum syriacum, considered by Biblical scholars to be the “hyssop” of the Hebrew Bible. Modern day “za’atar” is a generic name for a family of Middle Eastern herbs – oregano, thyme, and savory – but also refers to an fragrant spice mix that includes those herbs, along with sesame seeds, sumac, salt, etc.
While za’atar is most often connected with Middle Eastern dishes, it does find its way into other cuisines as well. This chicken recipe combines za’atar with pomegranate molasses, which is definitely a Persian pantry ingredient. Is Iran part of the Middle East? That’s a question for another day…
If you can’t find za’atar, and you’re dying to make this recipe, you may be able to locate the ingredients to make your own spice mix. I have used both homemade za’atar and commercially prepared za’atar. Keep in mind, this spice mix/condiment is (like so many others) a “loose” recipe. Each kitchen may have a slightly different variation.
If you want to try za’atar before committing to a butterflied and grilled chicken, try mixing it with olive oil and brushing it on flatbread or vegetables as they grill. I think you’ll love it!
Butterflied and Grilled Za’atar Chicken
Why go to the extra trouble to butterfly your chicken? The 5 minutes it takes to butterfly the chicken means your chicken cooks more evenly… no dried out breasts or under-cooked thighs!
All you need is a good pair of poultry shears. DO NOT TRY TO USE KITCHEN SHEARS! If you promise not to laugh, see my video. This was my first video (I think), and the quality is poor, but it does a good job of showing the technique.
Preheat your grill to 400 degrees. Mix the rub (it’s more like a paste), rub the butterflied bird all over with the za’atar mixture. Place on the hot grill with the breast side down for about 10 minutes – until you have nice sear marks. Meanwhile, whisk up the Citrus-Pomegranate Glaze. Reduce the heat, lower the lid, and cook until the skin is nicely browned.
Carefully turn the chicken, and brush with the glaze. Continue to brush with the glaze periodically. Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160°. Remove to a platter. Tent with foil, and throw a towel over top. The chicken will continue to cook a bit, bringing it to perfection, and all those amazing juices stay inside (where they belong)!
With Memorial Weekend, Father’s Day, and 4th of July fast upon us, you’ve the incentive to give this one a try…
- 1 whole chicken, spatchocked (butterflied)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons sumac
- 2 tablespoons za'atar
- zest of 2 citrus, (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- several grinds pepper
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 cup citrus juice, (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- fresh mint or cilantro
- sliced citrus
- Preheat grill to 400 degrees. Combine the ingredients for the rub. Butterfly the chicken (Please!) Apply the rub (it's more of a paste) all over the bird.
- Grill breast side down at 5:30 400 degrees for 10 minutes until you have nice sear marks. Turn chicken over, and reduce heat to about 300 degrees. Lower the lid.
- Whisk together the glaze ingredients. Brush periodically with the glaze. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
- Carefully remove to a platter. Tent with foil, and cover with a towel. Allow the chicken to rest 10 minutes.
- Carve and garnish as desired with citrus and herbs. Enjoy!
I used a Meyer lemon and a blood orange. I zested both, then juiced them for the glaze. Lemons and oranges work great, and I feel confident that grapefruit would as well. Lime might be risky...
My small-ish chicken cooked in about 45 minutes. I TOTALLY rely on a meat thermometer!
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal.com): 328 calories; 31 g protein; 16 g carbohydrates; 15 g fat. Keep in mind: The macros totally depend on which part of the chicken you eat, and how big the chicken is.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 328 Total Fat: 15g Carbohydrates: 16g Protein: 31g