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Butterflied Roast Chicken
Jul 14th, 2004

Last week I was reading through Forever Summer, and she started going on about cutting the backbone out of the chicken, flattening it out, and roasting it for only 45 minutes. Well alrighty then, I guess it is a sign from our Lord, I must butterfly and roast a chicken.

Thankfully Nigella supplied more detailed instructions, so yesterday morning I dutifully placed my whole chicken breast down on a cutting board, grabbed my trusty kitchen shears, and started cutting along one side of the backbone. Much to my surprise, it worked quite easily. I cut along the other side of the backbone and out it came. Then I kind of pressed down on the chicken until it opened up and flattened out a bit. Voila, butterflied chicken. Still following Nigella's instructions I popped it into a large freezer ziplock bag along with the leaves pulled off the stems of two long rosemary sprigs, the juice of one lemon, the lemon halves I had just juiced, one onion cut into 8 pieces, and 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Then I halved 4 small Walla Walla sweet onions and 4 small new potatoes and put them in another freezer bag along with some olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Both freezer bags went into the fridge and I went off to work.

I had to go to a meeting at 7:00 that evening, so Jim finished up the cooking in order to have dinner waiting for me when I got home. I called him about an hour before I got home and had him take the chicken out of the fridge and leave it on the counter for 15 minutes or so to bring it to room temperature, while preheating the oven to 425. Then all he had to do was dump the contents of the two freezer bags onto a foil-lined cookie sheet with the chicken lying skin side up and flattened slightly. Nigella wants you to add some sea salt, pepper, and one whole rosemary sprig to the chicken at that point, but Jim happily ignored all that and the results were just fine. The chicken and veggies roasted for 45 minutes, and came out crisp and juicy and cooked just right. The onions were especially nice, sweet and meltingly tender.

So butterflying a chicken turns out to be a good option if you want to have a roast chicken on a weeknight, as the fast cooking time makes it possible. You don't have to mess about with the marinade if you don't want to, although it was really tasty. Just rub some salt and pepper under the skin of the chicken before popping it in the oven and toss the veggies with oil and you're good to go. But if you have time to do the whole thing, give it a try, the rosemary and lemon are quite nice. You can even prepare the marinated chicken the night before if you don't actually want to be terminally late to work in the morning like me. Serve with a tossed green salad.


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© 2006, Kimberly Cooperrider | kymmco@excite.com