Chicken – with

by Charlie Burke

Chris Schlessinger, an exceptional cook and expert on grilling who runs The
East Coast Grill in Cambridge, Massachusetts, butterflies small poultry for
grilling. He and Jasper White explain this shortens the cooking time and
results in more even cooking. Jasper, in his classic book “Jasper White’s
Cooking From New England”, explains that in old English cookbooks split
and grilled birds were termed “spatchcocked,” and I’ve always wanted to use
that word in a sentence!

I was startled a few years ago to read that the “candles”, the light green shoots
of white pines, are edible and can be substituted for fresh rosemary. I’ve tried
them, and the flavor is close to that of rosemary but differs enough to be
interesting. It would be fun for children to help gather the pine shoots and
later see them used to flavor their meal. Now is the perfect time; the candles
have just emerged and are mild and tender. They will soon become large and
fibrous. Use only those from white pines; I have no information on other

For four:

1 3 ½ - 4 pound young chicken,
preferably free range or fed naturally
Kosher or sea salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons white pine shoots
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 -3 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)

Rinse chicken with cold water and pat dry. Remove extra fat and trim off wing
tips. Place chicken breast side down and using poultry shears cut along
backbone, starting at the neck. Repeat on the other side of the backbone; save
the wing tips and backbone for stock. Spread the two sides apart and press
down on the breast so that the chicken lies flat. Season both sides with salt and
pepper and lemon juice, if using.

Build a charcoal fire on one side of your grill; if using a gas grill leave one
element unlighted, cover and preheat for 20 minutes. Place chicken skin side
down at the edge of the fire with legs closest. Watch carefully and turn over
when skin starts to brown. Turn and move chicken to the side of the fire and
cover with a large disposable aluminum pan. This acts like a “mini” oven
which provides high heat off the direct fire – a favorite restaurant trick. The
grill cover can be used, but the browning and flavor will be less intense.
Cooking time will vary, depending on the fire and the size of the chicken.
Check the temperature at 20 minutes after turning; When the temperature in
the thigh reaches 175 degrees, remove from the heat and let sit, loosely
covered for 15 minutes before carving. Divide the pine shoots among your
guests; they can either dip a bite into the pine or sprinkle it over the meat.
Spatchcocked chicken and pine needles in one meal!

*The recipe for fiddlehead ferns and the use this week of pine shoots remind us that
foraging wild foods in New England is becoming a lost art. If you know a local forager,
please contact us; we would like to learn more about the wide variety of edible plants in
our fields and forests.

About the author
An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice president of
the New Hampshire Farmer’s Market Association ( and helps
run the Sanbornton Farmers' Market. Along with his wife, Joanne, he grows
certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather Hill
Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  

Did you know...
the tender young shoots of the
white pine can be substituted for
Spatchcocked chicken.  Click here for more recipes...
Tender young shoots of the white pine.  Click here for more recipes...
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