Dad's Lemon Chicken (Under a Cast Iron Skillet)
Serves: 4
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 large chicken (about 5 pounds)
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup chopped soft herbs  (I used a mix of oregano, basil, and cilantro)
  1. To butterfly chicken position it breast down and the tail end facing you. Using kitchen shears, cut along one side of the tail down the entire length of the backbone. Breast still down, turn chicken, neck end facing you, and cut along the other side of the backbone to remove backbone; reserve back for another use.
  2. Turn chicken, breast side up; open chicken up and lay on work surface. Use palm of hand to flatten breast so that chicken lays flat. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and set on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for an hour. (Can be refrigerated up to 2 days.)
  3. When ready to serve, heat gas grill, with all burners on high for about 10 minutes. Use a wire brush to clean grill rack, then use tongs to wipe an oil-soaked rag over it. Close lid and return to temperature. Alternatively, build a hot charcoal fire on one side of the grill.
  4. Lightly brush both sides of chicken with oil and place, skin side up, on hot grill rack. Top with cast iron skillet (or 2 bricks set on a rimmed baking sheet). Cover and grill until first side is an impressive dark brown, being prepared especially at first to extinguish any flare-ups, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove skillet or bricks and turn chicken over. Replace skillet or bricks and continue to grill, skin side down, until skin is an impressive dark brown, being prepared especially at first to extinguish any flare-ups, about 10 minutes longer. For a 2-burner grill, turn off one of the burners. For a 3-burner grill, turn off 2 of the burners. Turn chicken, breast up and place over turned off portion of grill. Cover and continue to grill until chicken juices run clear, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  5. Meanwhile, mix lemon, garlic, and herbs. Pour over hot chicken, brushing it on so that it absorbs. Let rest about 10 minutes. Cut into 10 pieces—2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and then halve each breast, crosswise to make 4 large pieces. Serve.
This grilled chicken recipe isn't exactly my dad's. He uses parts instead of a butterflied chicken and doesn't weight the chicken during cooking. After many years of grilling lemon chicken, he finally discovered that if he dunked the chicken in the lemon at the end of cooking, it had a much more potent flavor. He's right!
Recipe by Three Many Cooks at