Welcome to another recipe from our cooking class the other week. Cassia and I were both excited to include this recipe on the menu because it’s so dang easy to make. I have to admit that I have been among the ranks of people intimidated by the idea of roasting a chicken–but no longer!
Let me put it this way: the first time I butterflied a chicken and tossed this together, I was able to get home from work, put it in the oven, change my clothes, and dash out the door again to get to my yoga class all in 15 minutes. For realz. I left a note for my husband (due to get home shortly) to turn off the oven after 35 minutes. When I got back from exercising, the aromas that awaited me were mouth-meltingly good. And I realized that roasting a chicken is a fabulous weeknight meal–almost no prep time, and a very modest cooking time. Plus, butterflying a chicken is kind of . . . fun. As long as you own some hefty kitchen scissors, this neat trick will reduce the roasting time and get the chicken to cook evenly.
It’s also a great trick for the summertime, when the flat surface created by butterflying a chicken will allow you to slap ‘er on the grill. Brilliant! Maybe some day I’ll own a grill and I can experience the wonder for myself.
Let’s do this thang!
1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs), giblets removed
2-3 TBS olive oil
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves torn off 2 of them
1 head garlic
1 lemon, cut into 6 pieces
1 lemon, for garnish
First, preheat the oven to 400 F. Then, rinse the chicken (including the cavity) and dry the beast thoroughly with paper towels. Place it on a cutting board (with an optional sheet of wax paper underneath for cleanliness), breast side down and backbone side up. Arrange it so that the neck is facing you.
Now it’s time to butterfly!
Cut along either side of the backbone:
You’ll hear some crunches, but shouldn’t encounter any major obstacles. If you do, adjust your course accordingly. Above, I’m cutting along the right side of the backbone. Once you’ve cut all the way through, cut through the left side as well and simply remove the entire backbone. Remove the backbone and throw it away.
At this point you’ll see some extra skin and fat hanging around the bottom–cut that out.
Turn the chicken over, and firmly press on the breastbone to break it.
There I am dangling it from a casual hand during the cooking class.
I’m pointing to the breast bone, which we just broke. Your chicken should now look like this:
Now that the chicken is splayed out, pat it dry again with more paper towels (the drier you can get it, the crisper the skin will bake up).
Spread a layer of parchment paper on a large baking sheet, and slap the butterflied chicken on it, skin side up. Pour the olive oil over the chicken, sprinkle on the rosemary leaves, and generously season it with salt and pepper, spreading the oil and seasoning over the entire surface with your fingers.
Break apart the head of garlic (but you don’t need to remove the papery skins on the cloves).
Roughly chop the lemon:
Distribute the garlic and lemon all around and underneath the chicken.You don’t have to stuff anything under the skin, but I kinda felt like it.
I’m sorry if this grosses you out–but after 35 minutes in the old cooker, your chicken eeblie-jeeblies will turn into pure, unedited hunger.
I call dibs on that piece of lemon up in there!
We’re almost done–toss a couple whole sprigs of rosemary underneath it.
And ready to roast!
Roast it for 35-45 minutes (test for doneness at 35). And let me add–please don’t overcook it. If the juices are running clear, you’re probably good to go. But the difference between a chicken overcooked by 10 minutes (starting to get dry and fibrous) and a perfectly cooked chicken (think al dente pasta) is amazing. When it’s moist and just done, it’s an experience to be treasured bite by bite. Overcooking makes it mediocre and blah. The USDA will tell you to go to 170 in the breast, but keep in mind that their recommendation errs on the high end. The dry end. The fibrous end. I cooked my chicken to 160 in the thick part of the breast. For my taste, perfect!
Optional step: 10 minutes before it’s done, you can grab a stick of butter and smear it over the top. This will give the skin the lovely golden brown color that you see in these pictures.
Let it rest for about 10 minutes before carving and serving. Serve with fresh wedges of lemon, and the roasted lemon as well (the pulp will melt like butter!). And in the name of all that is good in the world, please don’t forget to squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins–it’s to die for.
We served this chicken with the brussel sprouts and a creamy goat cheese polenta. What a perfect combination.
So, my friends–roast a butterflied chicken on a weeknight! It’s easy to prepare, quick to get on the table, and oh-so-satisfying to eat.
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