Buying a whole chicken is a great way stretch your dollar, as it is significantly cheaper than buying the chicken parts separately. The other day, I had 2 breasts in my hands 😉 ready to go and ended up switching them out for a whole chicken because it would save me a few bucks. I bought my chicken directly from my farmer’s market vendor, so I felt reassured that the chicken lived a relatively happy life. As Deb from the Smitten Kitchen says in her cookbook, the smaller, cleaner chickens from the greenmarket really do taste incredible, and there is no need to add anything extra.
With a whole chicken at my side, it was time to start SPATCHCOCKING. I only recently heard the term while listening to Tracy talk about it on the Joy the Baker Podcast. Basically, you cut the backbone out of the chicken with your kitchen shears and lay the chicken flat in a roasting pan (check out the Adam’s spatchcocked chicken while you’re at it, and Tracy’s great pictures. Hopefully they won’t gross you out too much). Doing this allows the chicken to cook evenly in a relatively short time, and the breasts won’t overcook before the legs are ready. A great idea for holiday entertaining.
As Deb points out in the head note for this recipe, from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, she learned to have faith that chicken skin will crisp itself in a high-heat oven, and not to load it with oils and rubs. The only oil in this recipe is used for the potatoes. The chicken skin provides all of the lubrication that the chicken needs.
From Thomas Keller, Deb learned to rain the salt down on the outside of the bird and to trust that it won’t leave the chicken too salty, just perfect. Salt is key. While it gets a bad rep. these days, salt makes a huge difference in flavoring dishes cooked from scratch.
This chicken was simple and juicy. After I few days, I shredded some of the meat and ate it with brown rice, black beans, and sautéed peppers and onions. A nice way to repurpose the leftovers.
I see a lot more spatchcocking in my future…!
Spatchcocked Flat Roasted Chicken
recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
One chicken, about 3 pounds
salt and pepper
Two handfuls of tiny yellow potatoes, washed and sliced in half
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil, for the potatoes
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Using a pair of sharp kitchen shears, remove the backbone of the chicken and discard it (or freeze and save it for making stock). Season the cavity generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lay the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan (I used my cast-iron skillet), and gently pat the breast skin dry with a paper towel. Generously season the top of the bird with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Nestle the potatoes and garlic cloves around and under the chicken, and drizzle them lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper.
Roast the chicken for 30-45 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees. Toss the potatoes after about 20 minutes, so that they cook evenly. When the chicken has finished cooking, let it sit for about 10 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a serving platter. Remove the legs, thighs, wings, and breasts from the spatchcocked chicken, and arrange them with the potatoes. Enjoy with another vegetable side dish for a balanced meal.
Update 9/25/14: new photo of the spatchcocked chicken baked in a pyrex. Delish!