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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Grilled Half Chicken

I've written before about doing your own meat prep not only for freshness but also to save money. When it comes to chicken buy it whole on sale then cut as desired. The method for preparing boneless skinless chicken breasts can be found here. While I can get chicken pieces on sale for as low as 69¢ per pound, whole chicken sales are few and far between with the regular price averaging around $8 for a small chicken. So when a local store held an in store special at the same sized chickens for around the $3.50 range, I had to pick up a few.

We had planned to go boating Sunday but after a very long and productive weekend working on three rooms including the kitchen, we simply were too tired. I had thawed a whole chicken with the plans of using the rotisserie on the grill but then couldn't find the clamps to hold the chicken on the spit. They are in my notorious safe place so may take awhile to find! It was onto plan B of cutting the chicken in half and grilling. It ended up being a good plan as it started raining shortly after we turned off the grill.

First Cuts

The first thing to remember when cutting a whole chicken in half is not to use a knife. What you want to use for best results is kitchen shears. [Oh and never use or let anyone else use your kitchen shears for cutting anything else but food!] Lay the chicken breast up on a cutting board. Make the first cut from the tip of the breastbone clear through to the neck (upper scissors). It will be slightly unequal as far as size of halves but that's fine. Once you have cut through to the neck it is time for what I call the clean-up cuts.

Carefully go around the chicken removing any excess fat (lower scissors) and extra skin. This lowers the fat content but also reduces flare-ups on the grill. The fat and skin can be froze for adding extra flavour when making chicken stock.

Back Cut

Spread the chicken open after the clean-up cuts. Turn the chicken so the bottom end faces you. Using the kitchen shears cut strain up along the vertebrae. Check for any extra trimming that might be needed.

I should note that the recommendation is to have a separate cutting board for poultry. In fact you should have separate cutting boards for vegetables, pork, beef and cheese. Although mine are not colour coded, you can now buy packages of colour coded cutting boards. You will also notice that my cutting board is sitting on a tea towel. This is not my normal practice. It's on the tea towel because the grout has not been sealed yet so believe me I was being extra careful not to get anything on the tile. After the chicken is cut either wash the cutting board and kitchen shears with soapy, bleach water or put in the dishwasher. Wipe down the countertop with an antibacterial solution (5% ethanol, 5% liquid Lysol, 50% vinegar). A bleach solution can be used but it is a respiratory irritant and can damage surfaces as well as materials so should be avoided.

Chicken Halves

Once the chicken is prepped you will have two half chickens. This makes for a lovely presentation regardless of the way it is cooked. At this point a rub or marinade can be used.

I decided to not use a rub or marinade for the chicken halves. Instead I decided on a slower grilling method then finishing with Diana sauce. The best way for grilling half chickens is to use tongs. Place the chicken wing side up on the grill and let cook until there are well defined grill marks. Turn using tongs. Once the chicken is grilled on the other side, pour the desired sauce if using and allow the sauce to caramelize.

Grilled Half Chicken

This meal really falls under the categories of budget stretching and frugal meals cooked on the grill. The chicken cost $3.58 for two with half left over. The zucchini was free with onions and corn being well under 50¢ per serving. So total cost per serving was about $1.40 which accounts for the energy used to cook the meal. It is important to consider the cost of the energy used to prepare meals because that is part of your food costs.

Yep, and there is my onion and zucchini mix sans mushrooms. Sorry but I love zucchini and would eat it daily if I could. Considering I'm working through those lovely zucchini we were gifted with I'm a pretty happy camper. I used Diana Sauce® Gourmet Honey Garlic for the sauce. Niblet corn and a side salad rounded out the meal.

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