How’s this for a picture-perfect hunk o’ bird? And it tastes every bit as good as it looks! Ermmm, if I do say so myself.
On our last trip to Costco, I noticed a two-pack of fresh, whole Perdue chickens for a ridiculous price and couldn’t NOT pick it up. Now, I like a regular roast chicken as much as anyone, but it IS spring here on the edge o’ the prairie, and one’s thoughts drift to the Weber on the deck – so a whole chicken was going to be a problem.
Enter spatchcocking. (Do this on da Google and you’ll find a surprising variety of hits).
At it’s most basic – spatchcocking is simply cutting out the back bone of a chicken with kitchen shears so it can be spread out and roasted flat (some folk remove the breast bone as well, but that’s too much bother for me – tho’ I do a bit of additional snipping around the breast to get it to lay out nicely).
Now, what to do with our flat-ish little beauty?
Barbecue is always nice, and if I wasn’t flat (heh, heh) out of barbecue sauce at the moment, I’d have popped this baby in a buttermilk marinade and that would be that. Enter Nigella’s Chicken. Well, in truth, the buttermilk thing is Nigella’s as well, but this simple combination of olive oil, lemon juice, onion, and herbs was my first entry into the magical world of Nigella Lawson’s take on chicken. Tender, tasty, and OH! so simple – how could you not love this marinade?
•One whole chicken, spatchcocked
You can use pieces if you like, but the whole bird is kinda cunning served up on a platter, and cheaper, too!
•1 onion, quartered
•Olive oil – about 3/8 cup
•1 or 2 lemons, juiced (save the husk to toss in the marinade)
•Herbs – Nigella calls for rosemary, which is lovely, but I added some parsley as well.
Put the chicken in a gallon-size sealable plastic bag (it’ll be tight). Pour in the olive oil and lemon juice, then chuck in the lemon husks, onion and herbs. Sprinkle with the sea salt, seal the bag and massage everything into the chicken.
Put the bag into a rimmed pan or pot (just in case it leaks) and pop it in the fridge overnight – giving it a turn and maybe a squeeze when you think of it.
MAKE AHEAD NOTE: you can do all of this and pop the sealed bag into the freezer. When you’re ready for some chicken, the marinade will do it’s thing while the bird is thawing in the fridge.
Bird well and truly marinated, bring to room temperature before cooking.
Grilling, as it happened, was out – it was just too damp and chilly for Rich to feel like standing over his baby the Weber – so I did the chicken in the oven.
On the grill or in a hot oven, the marinade gives the chicken a lovely, light flavor, and keeps it from drying out as it cooks.
For the oven: dump the chicken and the rest of the bag contents in a roasting pan – I used a rack, but you can put the chicken right on the pan if you like. I also added some more fresh parsley, some salt and pepper and a sprinkling of Caribbean Calypso Seasoning from The Spice House because I thought it’d go well with the lemon-y marinade.
Nigella calls for roasting at 425º for 45 minutes – I had some other stuff in the oven, so did about 75 minutes at 350º – but as always, check your chicken to be certain it’s done (165º).
Mmmmmmm, nice chicken – AND – I have enough left over to make this curried chicken, pineapple, and rice salad I’ve been wanting to try – BONUS!