Smoky Skillet-Grilled Chicken with Crispy Bread


Everyone loves the smoky taste of freshly-grilled chicken, but is cooking the chicken directly on the grates really the best way to go? This hybrid skillet-on-the-grill method lets you capture all the delicious juices that the bird gives off as it cooks, while still allowing the chicken to absorb plenty of barbecue flavor. Smoky charcoal, plus the rich, deep notes of smoked paprika and chipotle chile, add plenty of depth, achiote paste delivers a seductive red color to the meat, and a bed of rosemary adds that irresistible flavor. A final brilliant touch? Thick slices of grilled bread to serve alongside, ready to sop up all those beyond-wonderful juices.

Skillet Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken
Photo: Antonis Achilleos
Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
1 hr
4 to 6


  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon achiote paste

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chicken

  • 8 (3-inch) fresh rosemary sprigs

  • Thick slices of grilled country-style bread or steamed rice for serving


  1. Place chicken, breast side down, on a work surface. Using poultry shears and beginning at tail end, cut along each side of backbone, separating backbone from chicken. Reserve for stock or discard. Turn chicken breast side up. Using the heels of your hands, press firmly against breastbone until it cracks and chicken breast flattens.

  2. Stir together the achiote paste, vinegar, salt, oregano, paprika, ground chipotle, black pepper, and olive oil in a medium bowl until well combined. Using your hands, slather the entire surface of the chicken with the marinade. Allow the chicken to marinate at room temperature while you prepare the grill; alternatively place the marinated chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal the bag and transfer to a baking dish. Refrigerate up to 12 hours. Bring chicken to room temperature before grilling, about 1 hour.

  3. Preheat a gas grill to medium-high (400°F to 450°F) on 1 side, or push hot coals to one side of a charcoal grill. Place the rosemary sprigs in a large cast-iron skillet, then place the chicken, skin-side up, over the herbs. Place skillet on grates over direct heat, close grill, and cook for 10 minutes. Open the grill, move the skillet to indirect heat, rotating the pan to ensure the chicken breast is closest to the direct heat. Grill, covered, and continue roasting until chicken's juices run clear when skin is pierced with a knife and the skin is crispy [a thermometer registers 160°F], about 30-35 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat and let chicken rest for at least 10 minutes (or up to 30). While the chicken rests, grill the bread (if desired) over direct heat until lightly charred, about 90 seconds on both sides. Carve and serve the chicken (discarding rosemary sprigs) over toasted bread or rice, with the pan drippings spooned over the meat.

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