From the Grill chapter. Ruhlman prefers charcoal over gas because he believes that gas deprives us of the “sensory pleasures” of cooking over a live fire. I guess I understand that but I’m also currently sporting a scar on my leg from a recent sensory encounter with a hot chimney starter so I’m inclined to base my charcoal argument more on flavor. Ruhlman also says that grilling over flames requires us to pay more attention to what we’re cooking since the heat is inconsistent, and that the gas grill robs us of that control. I think he’s over-thinking all of this. I suspect most people have gas because they can just turn a knob on a Tuesday night and don’t have to mess with charcoal and ashes.
So, the recipes in the Grill chapter are meant for charcoal but most can be used with a gas grill too. Butterflied Chicken with Lemon-Tarragon Butter Baste is not, unfortunately, one of them.
If if you’re like me, this one had you at “Butter Baste.” It’s basically a Bernaise sauce for grilled chicken. It’s just bonkers good.
And it’s quite simple but you’re going to need to spatchcock a chicken for this recipe and as soon as you stop giggling like middle-schoolers about “spatchcock” you can watch this how-to video from the wonderful Melissa Clark. This is going to require that you become fairly intimate with your chicken so…roll up your sleeves and buy it a drink (Wait. Stop. Reverse that). Once you’ve mastered this, however, you will find that an opened-up and flattened chicken (i.e. spatchcocked) will cook more quickly than the traditional, chicken-shaped one, either on the stove top or on the grill. It’s a technique you should be able to use frequently. The only other thing you’ll need to do is make a buerre monte, which is just a simple sauce made by incorporating butter, chunk by chunk, into (in this case) lemon juice and finished with some shallot, dried tarragon and dry mustard.
For me, it doesn’t get much better than a meaty chicken thigh, its skin grilled to crispy perfection, doused in lemon-butter. Serve it over some rice or other absorbent starch to catch all the beurre.
Butterflied Chicken with Lemon-Tarragon Butter Baste is on page 295 of Ruhlman’s Twenty.