Monday, November 7, 2011

Flattened Roast Chicken and Potatoes

Roast chicken is one of my favorite meals. Chris and I went to San Francisco a few years ago and shared the Roast Chicken dinner for 2 at Zuni Cafe. I never knew chicken could taste so good and quickly found out how simple it is to make! I've been making this recipe for a while from Thomas Keller but this time I decided to try something new. While I love the Thomas Keller method, I think I liked this one better. The skin was crisper, the breast meat was tastier and the chicken was much easier to carve. Plus, this recipe cooks faster. I used this Chicken al Mattone recipe from Bon Appetit for this. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Time: 1 hour
Serves: 4, or 2 with leftovers

  • 1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs*
  • 1 large russet potato
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 TBSP fresh rosemary (or thyme, or sage)
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley
  1. Unwrap your whole chicken and check in the cavity for a little plastic packet of giblets. Take them out if and set aside. I usually toss these but if you know what to do with them, go for it.
  2. Lay your chicken on a cutting board with the breasts facing up. Then, remove the backbone by cutting down both sides with a good pair of kitchen shears. If you're not comfortable with this, you can have your butcher do it for you but it's really not so hard. You can use a boning knife to do this too. Stick the backbone in a ziploc and stick it in the fridge. You can use this in your homemade chicken stock.
  3. Now that your backbone is gone, flip the chicken over and use your hands to press the chicken down flat onto your cutting board. Pat it dry on both sides with several paper towels.
  4. Peel and finely chop your garlic and rosemary.
  5. In a small bowl, mix your garlic, rosemary, olive oil and lemon juice. Rub this mixture all over your flattened chicken. If you have time, stick it in the fridge to marinate for a few hours. If not, you can also just cook it right away.
  6. Chop your potato into small cubes and add to a large saucepan of water. Set the saucepan over high heat until the water boils. Add about 1 TBSP salt to the water and boil the potatoes for 7 minutes, then drain and let steam. Add about 1 tsp more salt and some pepper to the potatoes while they steam.
  7. When you're ready to cook, take your chicken out of the fridge for 30-45 minutes to remove some of the chill and preheat your oven to 400°.
  8. Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper very generously over the chicken. You'll probably use about 1 TBSP of salt - you want an even coating of salt all over the skin.
  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 TBSP of olive oil over high heat. Add your chicken, skin-side down and cook for 7 minutes. Mine started smoking after about 6 minutes so I went ahead with the next step. Note that you don't want to flip the chicken yet!
  2. Add your partially boiled potatoes to the skillet, scattering them around the outside of the chicken.
  3. Cover the skillet with another heavy skillet (or a brick!) and put the whole she-bang in the preheated oven. Your chicken should still be skin-side down.
  4. Cook the chicken and potatoes for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and take off the top skillet or brick. Flip the chicken over and replace the skillet or brick over the other side of the chicken. You may need to toss the potatoes around a bit too.
  5. Put the skillets back in the oven and cook for another 15 minutes. You know the chicken is done when the juices run clear and/or the temperature is 165° when you stick a meat thermometer in.
  6. Once the chicken is cooked, move it to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes. Sprinkle it with fresh parsley and spoon some of the pan juices on top. While mine was resting, I drained off most of the fat from the pan and browned up the potatoes a bit more in the residual chicken fat. They didn't crisp up like I'd hoped but they were still amazing - some of the best potatoes you'll ever eat.
  7. After the chicken has rested, you can start carving it apart. I pulled the legs and wings off first, then cut the breasts off the bone. Enjoy the chicken with your potatoes and a little dijon mustard on the side.

* Whole chicken - I usually will just buy a whole "fryer" for these. They tend to be smaller than the other whole chickens and work great. For a special treat, look for an organic, free-range chicken. You'll spend more but it will be worth it. Plus, I'm going to show you how to make stock with the leftover bones so this one chicken will go a long way.

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