Not too long ago, I found myself looking up the rules on roasting chicken for no good reason. Sadly, I didn’t get very far in my research because I quickly stumbled upon an intriguing link to a recipe on Martha Stewart’s website, and soon I was totally sidetracked. The recipe in question came from Lucinda Scala Quinn, and it called for flat roasted chicken. This is somewhat different from traditional roasted chicken in that the chicken’s backbone is removed and the body flattened, the idea being that this will decrease cooking time significantly.
Well, thanks to some alluring photos and glowing reviews, I became rather fascinated with this flat roasted chicken business. I went out, bought a whole chicken, and roasted it for dinner. The results were fantastic. I’ve since made this dish three times, and each time has been just as good as the last. I knew I had to give it the Adventures in Domesticity treatment.
After the jump, check out this simple yet oh-so-gratifying chicken experience…
Things start off with a whole chicken. This one, from Trader Joe’s, cost me $5.59. You can get the same sized bird at Fresh & Easy for about $4. Either way, it’s all pretty cheap.
After peeling off the plastic, I use some shears to cut out the back bone.
There’s the discarded backbone. I know I could have saved it for chicken stock, but I have an obscene amount of the stuff in my freezer. I don’t need to be hoarding more.
Next up, I heat two tablespoons of olive oil on high in my skillet. The recipe calls for one tablespoon olive oil and one tablespoon of butter, but I modify it a touch in the pursuit of healthiness.
Back to the chicken. I flip it over and press down firmly until the breast bone kind of cracks. Basically, I just want this bad boy to be flat.
I pat down the chicken with a paper towel, season it generously with just salt and pepper, and then place the whole thing skin down in my skillet (12″), which by now has just started to smoke. Snaps, crackles, and pops ensue.
After exactly three minutes, I turn the chicken over, revealing wonderfully browned skin. In the past, it’s browned even darker. This bird could have probably used another 30 seconds or so. Not a big deal though.
Everything then goes into the oven, which has been preheated to 400 degrees.
Forty minutes later, I pull the chicken out. Sometimes it’s done by now; sometimes not. I check it on the thermometer and return it to the oven for five more minutes. Perfect.
I transfer the chicken to a cutting board so it can rest. Sadly, one of the legs falls off, totally RUINING the presentation. Eh. Presentation has never been my strong point.
While the chicken rests, I get to work making one of the two sauces. Let me just say that this chicken doesn’t even need sauce, but I’m bored; so why not? It’s just a simple mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic.
A few whisks, and the sauce is done! The second sauce involves lemon juice, butter, and the drippings in the skillet, but I decide to skip it.
The final product. Again, presentation is not my strong suit.
That looks a little better. Sadly, I had no sides, and I was in too much of a rush to go buy something (I had Harry Potter to see!).
Bonus macro shot!
The verdict: deeeeeeelicious. This is the third time I’ve made this recipe, and each time, I sort of want to weep. It’s never been anything but perfect. The skin is delightfully crispy, and the meat succulent and moist. And let’s not overlook the taste. The only seasonings may be salt and pepper, but man does this chicken sing with flavor. You’ll be tempted to shun the fork and knife entirely and just go caveman with some serious gnawing action. Chicken is so commonplace and frequently overcooked; a recipe like this reminds us of how truly wonderful the bird can be when treated properly.
Should you opt for the lemon garlic sauce, you’ll be treated to a second burst of intense flavor that goes oh-so-well with the chicken. Los Angeles residents may recognize the tangy, pungent sauce as being extremely similar if not identical to that served at Cuban institution Versailles. It’s what makes that restaurant’s famous garlic chicken so crave-worthy, and now you can make it at home. Major win there.
Sweetening the deal: the entire process from the moment I turned on the oven to the moment I served myself took only an hour and five minutes. Sixty-five minutes for a roast chicken. To quote Ina Garten, how easy is that? And then there’s the price tag. This dish can be made for as cheap as $4 (using a Fresh & Easy chicken). Buy some lemons and garlic for the sauce and you might be out an extra dollar.
Given the price, ease, and flavor, this recipe is an all-star winner. It’s definitely worth trying out. Check it out here:
Martha Stewart: Flat Roast Chicken