Monday, March 31, 2014

The Best Way to Roast a Chicken

I love roast chicken. To me, it is the type of homey meal one should serve for the family on a Sunday along with biscuits and pie. I have been trying to roast chicken more often especially since Matthew is more likely to eat chicken if it has "bones on it." I should admit that watching him eat his chicken bones is quite unappetizing. He likes to gnaw and suck on the chicken legs like a barbarian, all the while telling us how the "chicken is a dinosaur because he has bones." From an evolutionary perspective, that statement of his is surprisingly accurate. Don't get too excited. I don't think we have a budding scientist on our hands. The other day he was telling me that he is a robot and I made him with a screwdriver and nails. Which is totally ridiculous. Everyone knows you don't put nails in with a screwdriver.

Emma has also developed a taste for chicken. But not for eating it so much as wearing it. During mealtime, bits of chicken end up in her hair, down the front of her shirt, plastered to her get the picture. That's why, immediately following dinnertime, she can be found here:

However, some weekends we spend doing so many activities that we do not have time to plan our schedules around slow-roasting a chicken. Most recipes call for a little advance prep - brining the chicken followed by a 90 minute roasting period in the oven.

I had heard of spatchcocked chicken or turkey before, but had never tried it until last week. Basically, the chicken is cut so it will lay flat in a roasting pan, enabling all areas of the bird to cook evenly and more quickly. We had just picked up some gorgeous-looking chickens from our local market, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try a new roasting method.

Matthew was so interested in watching me cut the backbone out of the chicken and then split the breastbone to get it to lay flat in our cast iron skillet. Should that worry me?

I watched this video before cutting my chicken.

Anyway, after getting the chicken to lay flat, season it generously with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, toss some veggies together with a bit of oil, salt, and pepper. Scatter the veggies in your skillet, lay the chicken over the top, and roast for 35-45 minutes. That's it! The chicken cooks quickly and the skin gets nice and crackly. The vegetables underneath are basted in the chicken juices and come out tender and beautifully seasoned. Served with a green salad and some rolls and you've got one great meal.

Can you tell my oven needs a bit of cleaning?

I love dinners like this because you can use the cooking time to straighten up the kitchen so that everything is pretty clean when you sit down for the meal!

This "recipe" is more of a method if anything. You can season the chicken however you like as well as change up the vegetables. The possibilities are endless! Next time, I'm thinking of slathering the chicken in maple-mustard sauce before roasting.  Yum!

Spatchcocked Chicken
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Note: For this recipe, do try to find a whole chicken that is no larger than 3 1/2 pounds.

1 (3-3½ pound) whole chicken
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ pounds red potatoes, halved if medium-small, quartered if large
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Heat the oven to 450º. Cut out the backbone of the chicken using a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, then cut through the cartilage to flatten the breast.
Generously season the cavity with salt and pepper, then transfer the chicken to a 10 or 12-inch cast iron skillet, placing the chicken breast-side up. Pat the skin dry with a paper towel, then generously season the skin with more salt and pepper.
Toss together the melted butter, potatoes and more salt and pepper in a large bowl. Scatter the potatoes under and around the chicken. Roast the chicken for 30-45 minutes, stirring the potatoes halfway through (it's a bit tricky, but do your best!). The chicken is done when the thighs reach 165º.
Remove the dish from the oven. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before carving and serving.

1 comment:

  1. Luke often goes straight from the supper table to the bath too. He's so messy; I'm pulling food out of his hair all day!