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Grilled Chicken with Watermelon Salsa

Graham Elliot's whole bird trumps a plain grilled chicken breast
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"This dish is perfect to serve to company. Mike's Hard Apple Ale brings out the smoky char of the grilled chicken and complements both the bright pop of the watermelon and saltiness of the salsa. The result? Summertime magic." — Graham Elliot

To see more recipes, go to "Reinvented American Classics."

Grilled Chicken with Watermelon Salsa

Recipe adapted from Graham Elliot, Graham Elliot Bistro, Chicago

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes


For the Chicken:

1 tablespoon hot paprika

1 teaspoon ground sumac (optional)

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt

5 garlic cloves, smashed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon honey

Zest of 1 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 whole chickens (about 2½ to 3 pounds each), backbones removed


For the Watermelon Salsa:

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

4 cups diced watermelon

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced

1 medium cucumber, diced

½ cup chopped kalamata olives

1 jalapeño, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed if desired

½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves

¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves

Zest and juice of 2 limes

Kosher salt, to taste


1. Make the chicken: In a spice grinder, grind the paprika, sumac, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds and crushed red pepper flakes. Pulse until finely ground and set aside.

2. In a blender, combine the yogurt, garlic, herbs, honey, lemon zest and spice mix. Season with salt and purée until smooth.

3. Lay the chicken in a glass or ceramic dish large enough to hold them in a single layer, or place each one in a large resealable plastic bag. Cover them with the yogurt marinade, turning them to coat thoroughly, and chill for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

4. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling so that the heat is medium high.

5. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess drip back into the dish or plastic bag.

6. Place the chicken, skin-side up on the grill, and cook, covered, until cooked through and lightly charred, 30 to 40 minutes. Using tongs, flip the chicken over. Continue to cook, covered, until the skin is crisp and lightly charred, another 10 to 15 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, make the watermelon salsa: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, olive oil and honey.

8. Add the watermelon, onions, cucumber, olives, jalapeño, parsley, cilantro, mint, lime juice and zest. Season with salt and gently toss.

9. Top the chicken with the watermelon salsa and serve.

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