The more often I grill, the better I get at making the most of my fire. I mean, if you’re going to build a beautiful bed of glowing embers, why not lean into its delicious potential? Case in point: this trussed, golden chicken that crisps to juicy perfection just after you’ve prepped a charred tomato salsa that will be its perfect partner (and make your taco dreams come true). This time-efficient approach to grilling is a gratifying way of respecting the fire; it’s extremely satisfying to work your grill like a range and watch an entire meal come together on the grates.While the chicken roasts, you’ll have plenty of time to finish the salsa, and to prep anything else you want to serve. My PK Grill retains heat exceptionally well, so if I begin with one chimney of coals and a couple of chunks of wood (oak, pecan, or olive), I typically don’t need additional fuel to grill-roast a whole chicken. If the temperature does start to dip to 300°F, I simply add another wood chunk or two or a couple more chunks of lump charcoal or adjust the vents to kick up the fire with more oxygen.One wonderful thing about grill-roasting at a moderate temperature is that you can use your hands to help handle what you’re cooking, which is great when you want to rotate the chicken. If you get too caught up using just tools, you’re more likely to lose balance and pierce the meat or tear the skin. I like to slide a flat metal spatula under the chicken, then use my hands to carefully turn and rotate the bird; it just gives you a little more control, which I appreciate.After the chicken’s done and resting, don’t turn your back on the fire just yet. Char a stack of corn tortillas on the hot grates (conveniently seasoned with tasty rendered chicken fat). Chances are, you’ll have enough heat left to coal-roast eggplant or alliums, or even bake a skillet of brownies, but we’ll get to that later. For now, pass the limes—it’s time for tacos.


Credit: Antonis Achilleos

Recipe Summary test

1 hr
2 hrs 30 mins




Instructions Checklist
  • Make the chicken: Rub oil all over chicken. Season chicken, including cavity, with salt and pepper. Stuff cavity with onion quarters, lemon halves, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. 

  • Place chicken on a work surface, breast side up, with the legs pointing toward you. Center a 3-foot piece of butcher’s twine under the chicken and bring both sides around the wings (securing them to the carcass). Criss-cross twine over the breasts (forming an “X” on breasts) and around the legs (securing them together). Tie to secure. Set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. 

  • Make the salsa: Preheat grill to high (450°F to 500°F) on one side, or push hot coals to one side of a charcoal grill. Toss together tomatoes, onion, garlic, and oil in a large bowl. Place a grill basket over the fire and preheat for 5 minutes. Add tomato mixture to the basket, and cook, covered, stirring or shaking basket occasionally, until tomatoes are blistered on all sides and onion is charred and softened and garlic is blackened and feels soft when squeezed, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer each item to a bowl as it’s ready. Add chiles to basket. and toast, shaking basket constantly, until chiles are fragrant and a shade darker, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Place chiles in hot water; let soften for 10 minutes.

  • Reduce grill temperature to medium-low (325°F and 350°F). Place chicken, breast side up and legs closest to the coals, over indirect heat. Grill, covered, maintaining internal temperature between 325°F and 350°F, for 35 minutes. (This is a good time to refill and light your charcoal chimney so you have hot coals ready if you think you’ll need them.) 

  • Meanwhile, drain, stem, and seed the chiles, then coarsely chop. Peel garlic, and place it in the bowl of a food processor with chiles, tomatoes, onions, and oregano. Pulse until finely chopped, about 8 times. Add vinegar; honey, if using; and salt to taste; pulse to combine.

  • After 35 minutes, use tongs to carefully rotate the chicken 180° (so neck is facing heat) and continue to cook, covered, maintaining internal temperature between 325°F and 350°F, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken leg reads 165°F, 40 to 50 minutes.

  • Transfer the chicken to a cutting board; let rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. Carve the chicken as desired, and serve immediately with the salsa, tortillas, cabbage, radishes, cheese, and limes.