2 small whole chickens (about 3 to 4 pounds each)
Olive oil, for brushing, plus ¼ cup
Grains of paradise (optional) or ground black pepper
2 tablespoons white wine
cup strong Dijon mustard (such as Amora or Maille)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3 scallions, chopped
1 cup panko or fresh white breadcrumbs, plus extra for the tomatoes
2-4 medium tomatoes, halved
Heat the grill and prepare it for indirect cooking over medium heat.
Use paper towels to pat dry both chickens. Using poultry shears or a very sharp knife, one at a time cut down the length of each chicken's backbone on both sides to remove it. Overturn the chickens to be breast side up, then break the breastbone by striking it sharply with a blunt object, such as can of beans (wash the can after use).
Spread the chickens open and lay them flat. Tuck the wing tips under the upper wings, then brush all over with olive oil.
Season with salt and grains of paradise or black pepper. Place the chickens in the center of the grill skin side up. Cover the grill and cook for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, assemble the mustard sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the white wine and mustard. Slowly drizzle the ¼ cup of olive oil and the butter in the mixture to blend. Add the thyme, cayenne and scallions, then mix to combine. Reserve 8 teaspoons of the mustard mixture for the tomatoes (if making).
After the chickens have cooked for 20 minutes, turn them over and spread mustard sauce on backs of the chickens. Grill, covered, for 10 minutes. Turn over to breast side up and spread mustard on the skin, then grill, covered, for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle the breast-sides of the chickens with breadcrumbs and grill, covered, for another 10-15 more minutes, or until juices run clear and the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees. Remove the chickens from the heat and let them rest for 10 minutes before carving.
During the final 10 minutes of cooking time -- or while the chicken rests -- spread each tomato half with some of the reserved mustard sauce, then sprinkle them with breadcrumbs. Grill for 10 minutes, or until the tops are crunchy and the tomatoes are warmed through. Serve hot.
Elizabeth Karmel for The Associated Press