I’ve gotta be honest. This may be the best chicken I’ve ever made. Unfortunately, the photo of a perfectly golden bird with crispy brown skin never materialized. And that’s because the two times I made this chicken I was on my own with my toddler, Elijah, and at some crucial point in the crisping process I was distracted by screaming or howling or general tomfoolery. It’s amazing I got the bird cooked at all. So please don’t let my terrible photo deter you. This chicken is amazing.
I’ve always wanted to spatchcock a chicken but never had the guts or the sharp kitchen shears. Well I got cocky and decided removing the backbone from a chicken could be done without said tool. Just a sharp chef’s knife. And voila! Success. Roasting a chicken flat just seems more efficient. The heat gets at all the meat at roughly the same time and the skin gets just as crispy on the legs as it does on the breast. Being a white meat only girl I have to confess (sorry Kevin and Elijah) that I always spend extra time buttering the breast skin when I roast a chicken whole rather than the legs. And the breast given it’s horizontal orientation always takes the butter better. But with a flat chicken everybody wins. Crispy skin for all! Unless of course you screw it up like I did — twice. I have faith in you. Give it a try.
Spatchcocked Chicken with Potatoes — Adapted from Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. You should check out her blog. I made Elijah’s first birthday cake from her Monkey Cake recipe and it was a smash.
A chicken – the variety is up to you. Will taste better and be better for you if it’s organic but it’s fine to use the supermarket variety if that’s all you have. 3 to 3 1/2 pounds fits well in a 12 inch cast iron skillet but you can use a bigger chicken and another type of pan, though cooking times will vary.
salt and pepper to taste OR about 3 tablespoons of Kevin’s all purpose rub
1 1/2 pounds small potatoes or as many as will fit in the pan, any baking variety. Cut into quarters.
2 to 4 whole cloves of garlic peeled (These get roasted and yummy but if you don’t like garlic leave them out)
2 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil for potatoes
Half a lemon if using salt and pepper method
1/2 cup Kevin’s Memories of T-B-Q Sauce if using rub method, this is for serving
Preheat over to 450 degrees.
Using sharp kitchen shears or a chef’s knife remove the backbone of the chicken and freeze it, saving it for stock or makes a good soup bone. Run your knife along the spine, just to the side of the pope’s nose and follow the backbone all the way down. Do the same on the other side, holding the chicken tightly.
Season the cavity with Kevin’s all purpose rub or salt and pepper. Turn the chicken skin side up and plop into skillet or roasting pan. Wipe dry with paper towels. Season skin with rub or salt and pepper.
My potatoes were bigger than I would have liked so I cut them in quarters so they’d cook at the same pace as the chicken. Shoot for about a chestnut size. Toss potatoes and garlic with the rub or salt and pepper and the oil or butter. Scatter potatoes underneath and around the chicken.
Roast for 30 to 45 minutes or until thermometer inserted into the thigh registers at least 165 degrees. At about the 20-minute mark take a peek in the oven and if the chicken is getting too brown, especially on the wing tips, cover loosely with a piece of foil. You can even cut a small piece of foil and loosely put it over the breast, letting the legs brown.
Transfer potatoes, garlic to serving dish. Cut chicken into pieces on a cutting board and arrange on platter. If you only used salt and pepper rather than the rub, squeeze half a lemon over dish. If you used the rub, serve with Kevin’s Memories of T-B-Q Sauce.