Grill-Roasted Chicken with Crispy Parmesan

Paula: Melissa Clark’s clever recipe for The New York Times, Crispy Parmesan Roasted Chicken, is stirring up breathless excitement on social media. As it should, sprinkling grated Parmesan over a chicken as it roasts creates an extra crackly, super delicious skin. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to adapt the recipe for the grill. Spatchcocking the bird creates even more crispy crust (and surface area for the cheese), and roasting it over rosemary sprigs infuses the meat and pan juices with an incredible perfume.

Scott: I always brake for Crispy Parmesan, but the combination of all of these elements, Parmesan cheese, roasted chicken skin, rosemary, woodsmoke… I have to say, it has me at a dead standstill.

Paula: It was a huge hit at our house, and leftovers are great for lunch the following day (or in chicken salad). If your chicken doesn’t throw off a lot of fat or liquid, splash the skillet with white wine, chicken broth, or water during the last 15 minutes of cooking. And don’t forget to smoke the backbone, for stock, and grill slices of some country-style bread. The confluence of these flavors is even more satisfying when served atop lightly charred toasts and absorb the lemony juices.

Grill-Roasted Chicken with Crispy Parmesan

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons The Usual
  • 6-8 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) spatchcocked chicken (backbone removed so chicken lays flat) Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1⁄3 cup coarsely grated Parmesan
  • Thick slices of country-style bread, for serving

Finely grate 1 teaspoon zest from the lemon and place it in a small bowl. (Save the zested lemon for the drippings.) Stir in The Usual, and then use the mixture to season both sides of the chicken. Place the rosemary sprigs in a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan, then place the chicken, skin-side up, over the herbs . Drizzle the surface of the chicken with a little olive oil, and allow it to marinate at room temperature while you prepare the grill (or refrigerate uncovered up to 12 hours in advance).

Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire, or heat a gas grill to high. Clean and oil the grill grates. When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, place the skillet with chicken over indirect heat, close grill, vent for smoking and cook for 30 minutes. Open the grill, rotate the skillet 180 degrees, and sprinkle the skin with the Parmesan. Close the grill, and continue roasting until bird’s juices run clear when skin is pierced with a knife and the skin is golden, about 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Remove from heat and let chicken rest for at least 10 minutes (or up to 30). While the chicken rests, grill the bread over direct heat until lightly charred on both sides. Squeeze juice from the zested lemon, to taste, into the pan drippings and season with more salt and red- pepper flakes if you like. Carve and serve the chicken over toasted bread, with the pan drippings spooned over the meat.


Grill-side banter provided by food writer, cookbook author and grilling enthusiast, Paula Disbrowe, and infamous grill nerd and co-owner of PK Grills, Scott Moody.

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