Graham Elliot’s Grilled Chicken with Watermelon-Olive Salsa

  • By Graham Elliot
  • August 18, 2016
Image Author: Courtesy of Graham Elliot’s Cooking Like a Master Chef (Atria Books).
  • Active time: Prep time: about 40 minutes, plus marinating. Cooking time: about 40 minutes
  • Total time: About 1 hour 20 minutes



2 (2 ½ to 3 pound) whole chickens

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon piment d’Espelette cayenne pepper, or hot paprika

1 teaspoon ground sumac (optional)

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

2 cups plain yogurt

6 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Zest of one lemon


Watermelon-olive salsa

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons ground sumac (optional)

3 cups diced watermelon

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, peeled and diced

½ cup chopped Kalamata olives

1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (and seeded if you like less heat)

½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

¼ cup coarsely chopped mint leaves

Grated zest and juice of 1 lime



Trim any excess skin from around the necks and cavities of the chickens. Using poultry shears, carefully remove the backbones. Season the chickens on both sides with salt and pepper.

Put the piment d’Espelette, sumac, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and poppy seeds in a spice grinder and process to a powder. Transfer to a blender and add the yogurt, garlic, honey, red pepper flakes, oregano, parsley, and lemon zest and blend until well mixed.

Lay the chickens in a glass or ceramic dish large enough to hold them in a single layer or put them in a large resealable plastic bag. Cover them with the yogurt marinade, turning them to coat thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling so that the coals or heating elements are medium-hot.

Lift the chickens from the marinade and let the excess drip back into the dish or plastic bag. Scrape off any that does not drip off. Lay the chickens on the grill, skin side up, spread out so they are as flat as possible. Cover the grill and brush the chickens with the marinade every 10 minutes or so. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the juices run clear with the dark meat is pierced with a thick place and the internal temperature of the white meat is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Meanwhile, for the watermelon-olive salsa, in a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, oil, honey, and sumac.

Add the watermelon, onion, cucumber, olives, jalapeno, parsley, cilantro, and mint. Toss gently to coat with the dressing. Season with the lime zest and lime juice, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Serve with the chicken.

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