Butterflied Ricotta Chicken on the Grill

Let’s be clear, I claim to be a location photographer.  I am NOT a food photographer, nor do I wanna be.  For sure, photography is a great pleasure and I regard it — even after having been at the commercial photography for over 30 years — as something of a miracle.  I love what I do.

But, there aren’t many things I enjoy more than cooking.  Having hundreds of recipes of all kinds, I like to contend that I could fix a different  dish for every meal and never eat the same meal twice for the rest of our lives.

However, as a practical matter, there are some dishes that are so consistently good they have become staples. With Spring here, that means a lot of time in our very peaceful back yard at the grill.   Here is the recipe for one of my all-time favorite grill meals.


On the grill, use Indirect Medium Heat


— 1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds

— 12 ounces ricotta cheese

— ½ cup Parmesan cheese

— 1 egg

— 1-1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves, divided

— 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, divided

— ¾ teaspoon dried tarragon leaves, divided

— 2 tablespoon finely minced fresh parsley

— 1-2 large minced garlic cloves

— Olive oil

— ½ teaspoon paprika

With poultry shears, cut along both sides of backbone for the entire length of the chicken.

Remove the whole backbone and tail.  Skewer the neck skin to the back.  Twist wing tips under the back.


1.  Place the chicken skin side up, on the counter; press down on the chicken with the palms of your hands to “pop” the bones so that the chicken will lie flat.  (See Illustration # 1)

2  Using a sharp paring knife and your fingers, loosen the skin over the top of the chicken and drumsticks, starting at the neck edge.  Be careful not to tear the skin.  (See Illustration # 2)

3.  Mix the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, 1 teaspoon of the basil, 3/4 teaspoon thyme, ½ teaspoon tarragon, all the parsley, and the garlic.

4.  Carefully spoon the cheese/herb mixture under the skin of the chicken, pressing with your fingers to distribute evenly beneath the skin of the chicken and drumsticks.  (See Illustration # 3)

5.  Brush the chicken lightly with the oil;  sprinkle with the remaining ¼ teaspoon basil,  ¼ teaspoon tarragon, and the paprika.

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Grill over Indirect Medium Heat until the chicken legs move easily and the skin is well browned, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours.

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Transfer the chicken to a cutting board; rest for 10 minutes.

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Cut into quarters, cutting lengthwise and crosswise (the poultry shears accomplish this task easily).

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Reassemble the chicken on a serving platter.

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Makes 4 servings.

Bon appetit!!

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