“A halved chicken is really easy to handle on the grill. Since it’s on the bone, it comes out super flavorful. There are nutrients and flavors in the bones.”Brad Leone
Be aware, it’s crucial to dry-brine the chicken for at least eight hours, so plan ahead. This step seasons the meat and gives it time to absorb the floral kick of the mixed peppercorns. A fermented garlic-honey and vinegar glaze helps to mellow out the bite. You can make your own fermented garlic honey, but you will need to do this over a week ahead of time—time we didn’t have. You could also use regular honey or maple syrup instead.
Fresno chiles are similar, although a bit more fruity than jalapeños, but we had neither so we substituted a serrano, which tends to have more kick. It was near impossible to find pink peppercorns (another fallout from COVID-19??) so we used a blend of colored peppercorns that included some pink, red, green and black. Do not substitute all black peppercorns!
What’s the difference between black and pink? The most common variety, black peppercorns are just cooked green peppercorns that have then been left out to dry. They have the strongest, most pungent flavor. But the pink—which aren’t actually peppercorns at all—are berries that come from a South American shrub. Though they still have a peppery bite, they also have fruity and floral notes.
To keep the meal lo-carb, colorful and healthy, we paired our chicken with a grilled vegetable medley of summer squash, cremini mushrooms, onion, bell peppers, garlic and rosemary. Cut everthing up into bite-sized pieces, marinate with some olive oil, herbs and spices in a ziploc bag for a couple of hours, then either thread onto metal skewers, or use a grill basket.
Honey-Glazed Pepper Chicken
- 2 Tbsp. black peppercorns
- 4 Tbsp. pink peppercorns, divided
- 6 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 3¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt, divided
- 1 3½–4-lb. whole chicken
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more for grill
- 2 medium Fresno chiles, thinly sliced
- ½ cup fermented garlic honey, honey, or pure maple syrup
- 3 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- Finely grind black peppercorns and 2 Tbsp. pink peppercorns in a spice mill or mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in 5 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 2¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt; set seasoning aside.
- Place chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board and use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbone to remove (freeze and save it for stock!). Open chicken and turn skin side up. Press down on center of breast to flatten chicken—you should hear the breastbone crack.
- Using a chef’s knife or cleaver, split chicken in half through breastbone. Pat dry; rub all over with 1 Tbsp. oil. Sprinkle reserved seasoning all over, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies.
- Place on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Chill, uncovered, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.
- Coarsely grind remaining 2 Tbsp. pink peppercorns in spice mill or mortar and pestle.
- Cook chiles, honey, vinegar, and remaining 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture just turns amber in color and is reduced by about half (it should coat a spoon), 10–12 minutes. Stir in pink pepper and set aside.
- Prepare a grill for medium heat. Lightly oil grate.
- Set chicken on grate, cover, positioning vent over chicken if your grill has one, and grill, turning every 5 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thighs registers 120°–130°, 15–20 minutes.
- Uncover and continue to grill, basting with honey mixture and turning chicken every 2–3 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thighs registers 175° and 155° in the thickest part of breast, 10–15 minutes longer.
- Transfer to a cutting board and place skin side up. Let rest 30 minutes before carving.
Adapted from a recipe by Brad Leone found in the 2020 Grilling issue of Bon Appétit