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.

Macro shot!

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

27 replies on “ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Flat-Roasted Chicken Edition (or the Only Roasted Chicken Recipe You’ll Ever Need)”

  1. That looks too easy to be true! Delicious too! Unfortunately, I don’t have a big skillet like that, but am willing to go buy one. Now, if only my husband liked to eat chicken…

      1. I think it has to do with his mom making endless chicken dishes when he was a kid. I guess it was the cheapest meat she could find, so she made it a LOT. His sister turned vegetarian in protest and his younger brother thankfully didn’t have to eat as much chicken.

  2. I was wondering what to do with the whole chicken I forgot to put in the crock pot this morning. I just put this in the oven. I’m hoping it’s as good as it looks.

  3. This looks delish! And I like that since you cut the spine out you can remove the innards without having to stick your hand inside the bird. That step creeps me OUT and keeps me from roasting chicken every time. That and the fact that Whole Foods whole roasted chickens are just a couple bucks more and mighty tasty. Have you tried Thomas Keller’s roast chicken recipe? It’s what they serve at Bouchon and some of the best chicken I’ve ever tasted…

  4. Can I just say, I’m delighted that you use a cast iron skillet. I’m heiress to a vast cast iron collection and have been cooking with it since I was a little kid. It’s simply the best, to quote Tina Turner.

    1. It IS the best. However, I once tried to make spaghetti carbonara in a cast iron skillet. Do not attempt. The skillet stays too hot and causes the eggs to scramble when you make the sauce.

      Even worse, it happened on a date. Yikes.

  5. I made this last night. My 13 year old grandson pronounced it “Amazing!!” His older brother (who doesn’t like anything) snuck a second helping.

    I have been reading you for years because we have the same BB/Housewives obsession but this chicken is what prompted me to comment. It is that good. Thanks for the recipe.

  6. I made this tonight and it was VERY YUMMY…my cast iron skillet is not as big as yours so I used bone in chicken breast….THANKS..I’ll be making this very often…

  7. I have a similar recipe called Tuscan chicken under a brick.

    Yep, you flatten out the chicken, stuff some herbs mixed with olive oil blah blah under the skin, then throw it on the grill with a brick (cleaned and wrapped in foil) on top to keep it flat while it cooks.

  8. My brother cooked a whole chicken like that with a can of coca cola inside the body and left it on the grill covered for an hour and 15 mins…it was amazing….

    This looks even easier and I can’t wait to try it

    Thanks B!

  9. I love roast chicken and this one looks great. Have you ever tried throwing in some big chunks of onions, carrots, and potatoes to cook up at the same time? Looks like there’s plenty of extra room in that skillet for it. I’m going to try that lemon garlic sauce next time I make chicken.

  10. This recipe made me go out and buy a cast iron skillet. Unfortunately, now that I have the skillet and the chicken, I am too lazy to make it. Sigh 🙁

    1. bsf, there is nobody lazier than me when it comes to cooking but you won’t regret trying this one. It really was worth the small effort and that’s coming from someone who eats out all the time or I just buy cooked food at the store and reheat in the microwave. Try it, you’ll like it. : )

  11. Hey Ben, thanks so much for sharing this recipe with us. I made it last week and it was delicious. So moist and just as good for leftovers. I tinkered with it since I don’t eat all your ingredients. I sprinkled it with Kosha salt, garlic powder, onion powder and ground celery powder on the skin before frying. Those are the only spices I like on my food. It worked out as well as yours did. My chicken was bigger than yours and barely fit into the 12″ cast iron pan. I didn’t use a thermometer but cooked it about 55 minutes. The olive oil & butter it cooked in along with my spices and also a few squirts of lime juice made for a tasty dipping juice for each bite. BTW, I read somewhere that you add butter to the olive oil when frying to keep the OO from burning. Anyways, thanks again for the great recipe. I loved it.

    1. Another tip … follow Bens directions about frying it for 3 minutes. I thought mine would take longer because the chicken was bigger and I fried it skin down for 10 minutes and the skin burned. I did have to cut off most of the burned skin in the end. I never follow directions exactly and this time I had to pay the price. But rest of the skin was so tasty.

  12. This is my go-to recipe for roasted chicken, but my version is a little different.
    1) I go ahead and cut up the entire chicken (using the same Kitchen Aid shears it looks like you use)
    2) I use a tiny bit of coconut oil in the cast iron pan
    3) I put my oven at 450 degrees
    4) I liberally salt and pepper the chicken after I flip it, before I put it in the oven.

    Perfect. Every time.

  13. The chicken looks delicious. I don’t mean to be rude, but perhaps you should clean your stove. It is unsanitary to cook on a stove that looks like that. I would be embarrassed to post pictures of it.

  14. Bahahahahahahaha!!! “I don’t mean to be rude, but perhaps you should clean your stove. It is unsanitary to cook on a stove that looks like that. I would be embarrassed to post pictures of it.”

  15. B-Side’s messy kitchen in what I love best about this blog. well maybe 3rd best 1st is smart 2nd is funny.

  16. I do something similar, but I remove the sternum rather than break the breast. If I’m cutting the spine, I might as well remove that piece too. Sure, it doesn’t make as nice of a presentation, but ultimately you cut the bird up anyway. Basically you make two deep cuts on the breast that follow the sternum, then turn the bird over and rip out the bone. Additionally, this makes removing the ribs in the breasts so much easier.

    Additionally, I use this method (spatchcocking) to prepare brined and roasted birds. It works really well with turkey too and reduces the cooking time. Which is ALWAYS a plus.

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