Perp-Walk Chicken

aka Grill-Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Garlic, and Fresh Herbs

Saturday, May 21, 2011.  This date stands out for many reasons.  First, as I’m sure you heard, it was purported to be Judgment Day.  As 6 pm slid past uneventfully while we sipped Pinot Noir on our peaceful patio, with this chicken roasting away in the Big Green Egg (BGE), we had other reasons to celebrate.  The thorn-in-our-side neighbor, who I will call “Hugo”, was finally picked up by the fine officers of the Dekalb County Police Department.  Not to go into too much detail, let’s just say Hugo is your basic loudmouth who at his best was merely annoying, but at his worst was evidently mentally unstable and prone to violent and profane outbursts and other disturbing behaviors.  No one should have to live next door to this….and apparently the complaints and repeated calls to 9-1-1 from the neighborhood finally paid off.  Hugo had his Judgment Day…or it will be coming up in court soon!

So, with the joyful memory of seeing Hugo led off in handcuffs, we present to you the Perp-Walk Chicken!  Oh, Happy Day!

We like to roast our chicken standing up, which yields delicious crispy skin all around.  It also helps to brine the chicken for a few hours ahead of time, then dry it off and let it stand up in the refrigerator for about an hour so the skin is completely dry.  For additional flavor, I rubbed a mixture of fresh herbs, lemon zest, and garlic under the skin.  Mmmm…delicious!


  • 1 whole chicken, preferably certified humanely raised and organic
  • zest from one lemon
  • ~3 tablespoons of fresh herbs, chopped fine (I used rosemary, thyme, and oregano)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • several dashes of black pepper or a pepper blend (I used Back of the Yards Garlic Pepper Butcher’s Rub and Pepper-Lemon Seasoning from The Spice House.)

Brine:  1/4 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 quart of water.  Mix together in a resealable gallon bag, shaking until dissolved.  Rinse chicken with cold water, removing internal parts.  Place chicken in brine, seal bag.  Keep in refrigerator for 2-6 hours.  Remove chicken from brine and dry with paper towels.

Prepare the grill for an indirect cook at 375-400F.  With the BGE, we placed a trivet on the inverted plate setter so the roasting pan can sit directly on the plate setter.  (The chicken is too tall to set on the grill top.)  With other grills, bank coals on either side for indirect cooking.  This recipe will also work in the oven if grilling is impractical.

In a small bowl, mix the lemon zest, fresh herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Add enough olive oil to form a paste.

Gently loosen the skin from the breast and thighs by running your fingers underneath the skin, being careful not to cause any tears.  Scoop up some of the herb mixture with your fingers and place it under the skin, using your other hand over the skin to help spread it around over as much chicken meat as possible.  Repeat until all of the herb mixture is under the skin, with some rubbed on the outside of the chicken as well.  Liberally salt and pepper the outside of the chicken, all over.

Prepare a small metal baking pan by lining with foil.  Sit the chicken down on a vertical chicken roasting stand and place in the pan. I like to take half of a squeezed lemon and place it on top of the roasting rack before putting the chicken on the rack.  It keeps the chicken from sliding down too far on the rack, and adds more lemon flavor.  Using butcher’s twine, tie the wings down to the body of the chicken so they do not overcook.

(Note: If you don’t have a vertical roaster, a regular roasting pan with a rack can also be used.)

Put the roasting pan with chicken on the grill and close the lid.  Roast undisturbed for 30 minutes, then turn the chicken to “face” the opposite direction.  Roast for 25-35 more minutes, or until the chicken is browned all over, the temperature in the thigh reaches 170F and the juices run clear.  Remove the chicken from the grill and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.


A joyous day indeed, you have no idea! And great chicken to boot! Soundtrack this time around are a pair of old favorites, out with new music.

wronglersFirst up is the laconic Texas songwriter, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, this time with a group from San Francisco, The Wronglers with Heirloom Music– and that’s precisely what it is. Old string band and country songs such as “Deep Ellum Blues”, “Uncle Pen” and others. While you miss Gilmore’s songwriting, he fits in so well with this type of tune, you won’t miss it long.

Tracy Nelson has been singing the blues a helluva long time, and she keeps getting better and better. Her latest, Victim Of The Blues has the former Mother Earth leader growling out Howlin’ Wolf, Joe Tex, Muddy Waters and more. A great, great record!