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Butterflied Chicken with Peach Barbecue Sauce

Butterflied Chicken with Peach Barbecue Sauce

This is a really fun way to grill a whole chicken. The beauty of a butterflied chicken is that you flatten the bird out, allowing the leg meat to cook before the breast is overdone and dry. Between the butterflied cut and the basting with both butter and homemade barbecue sauce, this grilled chicken is incredibly succulent and flavorful.
TIP: To butterfly a chicken (also known as spatchcocking), use poultry shears to cut down either side of the backbone. Remove the backbone and discard or save for stock. Flip the chicken so that it is breast-side up and move the legs out from underneath it. Place your palms on the breast and press down firmly until the breastbone cracks and the bird lays flat. Keep in mind that as the sauce cools, it will thicken further. Extra barbecue sauce can be refrigerated and used within 3 to 5 days.

Butterflied Chicken with Peach Barbecue Sauce

Special Equipment: Immersion blender, blender or food processor, Muslin bag or square of muslin, Meat thermometer, Grill

Recipe makes 8 servings. Total time 1 hour and 30 minutes. Active time 1 hour.


For the sauce:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 4½ ounces tomato paste (1tube)
  • 1½ pints (3 cups) peach jam
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey (optional) 
  • 1¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon whole allspice berries
  • ½ of a cinnamon stick, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the chicken:

  • Two 4- to 5- pound whole chickens, butterflied and brought to room temperature
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick), melted
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. For the sauce: Fill a muslin bag or a piece of fine cheesecloth and with the mustard seed, peppercorns, allspice, cinnamon stick and red pepper flakes. Tie the bag shut or fold the cheesecloth up and twist and tie. Set aside.
  2. In a medium heavy stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and  ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until golden but not brown. Add the tomato paste, peach jam, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, whiskey (if desired) and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Add the prepared spice bag. Keep the sauce at a low simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the sauce is reduced in volume by about one quarter.
  3. Turn off the heat and cool the sauce for 15 minutes. Remove the spice bag. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and process until smooth. You can make the sauce up to 3 days ahead; refrigerate it in an airtight container and bring it to room temperature to use. (See Cook’s Note.) Reserve half of the barbecue sauce in a small bowl. Place the other half of the sauce in a small bowl next to the grill with a basting brush.
  4. For the chicken: Lay the chickens flat on a baking pan. Rub a teaspoon of salt and  ¼ teaspoon of pepper on the skin side of each chicken. Flip both chickens over and rub with the remaining salt and pepper.
  5. Prepare a grill for medium heat cooking; bring the grill to 400 degrees if your grill has a thermostat. Place both chickens on the grill skin-side up. Baste the skin side of each chicken generously with the melted butter several times over the course of 20 minutes.
  6. When the underside of the meat is white and the edges are browned and crispy, flip the chickens so the skin sides are down. Baste with the remaining butter, then baste with a generous layer of the barbecue sauce several times over the course of the next 15 minutes. Grill until the skin is a deep golden brown, then flip the chickens again.
  7. Baste the skin side with a generous layer of barbecue sauce. Grill for another 15 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast meat. When the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, turn the chickens over one last time for a quick searing on the grill. The idea is to give the skin side of the chicken a little bit of crispiness without burning the barbecue sauce. The skin should be grilled for no longer than 3 minutes.
  8. Pull the chickens off the grill and place them skin-side up on a large cutting board. Baste with the barbecue sauce one last time. Loosely cover with foil and let the meat rest for 15 minutes before serving. Carve the chickens and serve with the bowl of reserved barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.

Recipe first featured on Ranch To Table Season 4 Episode 8: "Whoopie" on the Magnolia Network.



Photographs by BJ Golnick and Brian Skope 

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