Herb-Roasted Spatchcock Chicken
Spatchcock your chicken to achieve tender meat with a crispy skin.
"I'm all about spatchcocking. Saying it and doing it."
for the chicken:
1 each 3 lb whole chicken
1½ tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 each lemons, zested
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
fine-grain sea salt and black pepper, freshly ground
for the pan sauce:
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 sprig rosemary (or thyme, sage, or tarragon)
1 each lemon, juiced (use one of the lemons you zested for the chicken)
1. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you're ready to cook it.
2. Heat the oven to 425° F and put a 12-inch cast iron skillet inside it.
3. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, lemon zest, garlic, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of salt, and about 10 grinds of the black pepper to make a paste. Set aside.
4. Rinse the bird and pat it dry with paper towels. Put the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board with the neck end closest to you. Using kitchen shears, trim any excess skin and fat from the opening of the neck cavity.
5. Remove the backbone by cutting along each side of it from the neck to the tail (or tail to neck, it doesn't matter). You're cutting through ribs, so you may need to put some muscle into it. Freeze the backbone to use for stock later.
6. Open up the chicken wider for better access to the cavity. Next up is the removal of the keel bone (a.k.a the breastbone) and the long, flat piece of cartilage in the center of the breasts. Use the heel of a sharp knife at the neck end of the chicken to make a 1-inch cut on each side of the keel bone. Bend the bird back, splaying it open like a book. Use your knife to cut the membrane along the center of the chicken to expose the keel bone and cartilage. Run your thumbs up and under both sides of the cartilage until it separates from the breast. Gradually pull out the cartilage and keel bone.
7. Flip over the chicken so that it's breast-side up and use your index finger to loosen the skin from the legs, thigh and breast meat. Spread the herb paste under the skin, spreading it into an even layer by pressing and pushing it around from the top of the skin.
8. Take the hot cast iron skillet out of the oven and put on the stovetop over high heat.
9. Generously season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and swirl it around to create an even coating. Put the chicken in the pan skin-side down and cook it for 3 minutes, then transfer it to the oven.
10. Roast it for 30 minutes. To check for doneness, poke the thickest part of the thigh with a fork. If the juices run clear, it's done. If the juice is pink, roast the bird for 5 more minutes. If the bird is done, but the skin hasn't crisped up, finish it on the stove over high heat for 2 minutes, then transfer it to a large plate to rest for 10 minutes.
11. Put the crushed garlic, rosemary, and lemon juice in the pan, and heat it on the stovetop over high heat (throw in some red pepper flakes for a little spice if you're feeling it). Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the caramelized bits of chicken, and add any chicken juices that have released on the plate into the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, then pour the sauce over the chicken.
- josh ozersky