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Roasted Whole Chicken on the Grill

This dinner all started with kumquats – even though, in the end, it had absolutely nothing to do with kumquats. Now that I think longer about it, this dinner actually started with going out to lunch and trying to avoid a parking ticket.

Maybe it’s just me…but sometimes I like to figure out exactly how I came to be where I am from where I’d just been. It’s often an odd, circuitous path to trace –  kind of like that “six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon” thing, if you know what I mean. Have you ever taken a long road trip with someone and after some lively conversation, there’s a period of prolonged but comfortable silence?  You think what you’re doing is watching the road or taking in all this amazing scenery, when actually, for some mysterious span of time, you’ve not been where you are at all, and suddenly out of your mouth comes something completely random and seemingly related to nothing. Do you ever then try to figure out (or even explain) how you came to be thinking that particular disjointed nonsensical thought? Well, this night’s dinner happened something like that.

Kumquats - having nothing to do with dinner

My husband and I have kind of a “custom” of going out to lunch on Saturdays. We’ll run a few errands and then pass the ball back and forth until one of us finally makes up our mind about where we’d like to eat, and then we sit across from one another talking about the week, news, politics…or sometimes something even more scintillating (if you can imagine!) We love our Saturdays together. Last week, we were following our usual practice and decided on a great little spot for lunch. We started to park in the lot across from the restaurant but realized it was designated for patrons of a grocery store. We parked there anyway –  but felt quite legal about it because we’d just drop into the market first, and then walk across the street for lunch. We had no real reason to be grocery shopping, other than ticket avoidance, but there we were.

The produce aisles always seduce me first, but for my husband, it’s the wine section. So we went our separate ways to meet up later. Weren’t kumquats all done for the season? I thought so, and had said my sad goodbyes – but no! There they were, and they were huge! – well, the biggest I’d ever seen.  I was downright delighted to see them and filled a small bag. My heart soon returned to its normal rhythm, but a little further down the aisle, the cutest little potatoes fanned out, in reds and yellows and purples! And they were smaller than the kumquats! Who ever heard of such a thing? I hadn’t, so I got handfuls of potatoes, simply because they were smaller than kumquats. And then, there was asparagus – now that’s gorgeous! That’ll be so good with those potatoes! I’ll do them together, with lemon and salt on the grill! Ah yes, the grill. Hmmm, I’ve never tried roasting a whole chicken on the grill before. I wonder if I can do that successfully? I think I’m just going to need to find that out!  And that is how I came to be here:

(You are so incredibly patient with me! Are you like this with everyone?)

Roasted Whole Chicken on the Grill

What I love about roasting a whole chicken: It’s far less expensive than buying the individual parts. It’s so straightforward and simple and after the first little bit, largely hands-off. It can be done in so many different and delicious ways…influences of French, Moroccan, Mediterranean, Spanish. Stuffed or not. Surrounded by vegetables of all different types. Sauce or not.  You can cook two at once with almost no additional labor. There’s (almost) always leftovers to turn into another meal. Then there’s the remnants that become a great stock for soups. And my husband loves it. So what’s not to like?

Cooking something on the grill for more than an hour at 400°F+ can only be done successfully using an indirect method. (In other words no coals or gas flames directly beneath the chicken.) So if you know how to cook on your grill using an indirect method, this will be easy! (If you don’t know how, just check the instructions from your grill’s manufacturer, or on line.)


  • 1 whole  chicken (preferably free-range, organic, humanely raised)
  • 2 lemons, 1 cut in half, the other juiced for basting
  • fresh herbs of your choice (rosemary, oregano, marjoram, parsley, sage, etc.)
  • whole garlic cloves, 2 or 3 or more, crushed but not minced
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preheat your grill to about 400°F. Prepare your chicken. Cut one lemon in half horizontally. Squeeze a little of the juice inside the cavity, and then shake in salt and pepper. Put one half of the lemon deep into the cavity. Then fill with the crushed garlic cloves, the herbs of your choice (this time I used several sprigs of rosemary), and finish off with the other half lemon, as kind of a cap holding everything else inside. Rub the chicken with a little olive oil and then salt and pepper liberally. Put the bird in the center of the grill and cook until inside breast temperature reaches 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, basting during the last 10 to 15 minutes with a citrus/olive oil marinade:

Make a little basting/marinating sauce with

  • the zest & juice of the other lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper

(Since I was also preparing grilled asparagus, I simply used the same marinade from that to baste the chicken during the final ten or fifteen minutes. You can see my post on lemony grilled asparagus, May 15th.) Let the chicken rest, covered with aluminum foil, for ten minutes before carving.

As you can see from the photo, it browned beautifully all over. What you can’t see from the photo is how succulent and juicy and positively scrumptious it was. I wish I could dish you up some! We were hungry! Sadly, the photo leaves a bit to be desired, but such are the challenges of a food blogger/photographer who’s also putting love on the table!

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. I think you read my mind! I had been getting ready to ask Spree how to grill a whole chicken. I looked up some interesting recipes awhile ago, but nothing appealed to me. I’m so glad to have this recipe from a source I trust.

    I love the kumquat story, and how you took the “odd, circuitous path” to finding dinner. (Or did dinner find you?) Either way, it’s clear that love made it to the table again!

    June 24, 2011
  2. ps…the photos made my mouth water.

    June 24, 2011
  3. I’ve used this recipe several times this summer. Between juicy, savory chicken flavors are dreamy hints of rosemary and lemon. The skin is delectably crisped. The insides so moist and receptive. It’s been a great way for me to cook for a picnic for 4 or 6. When the Greek farro salad accompanies it, nothing more is needed… Until chocolate.

    August 29, 2011

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