I was intimidated by the thought of roast chicken. It seemed as though, everywhere I turned, there was discouragement. People would either discuss their culinary technique obsessively or turn their noses up at the thought of poorly-cooked poultry. People fawned over the extraordinary hens at Zuni Cafe, making it seem even the ideal bird seem even less within reach. Well, no longer. I got over my fear of dry or underdone meat and, together, Jay and I made roasted chicken. What’s more — it was so incredibly easy and so utterly delicious, there’s no doubt in my mind we’ll be making this regularly (Whole30 or not). We even made a tandoori spiced version the other night, which turned out beautifully. My time in the kitchen always reinforces that, in the very wise words of Ratatouille‘s Jacques Gusteau, “anyone can cook.” Word.
Quick roasted chicken
We placed the finished chicken over roasted vegetables and allowed the juices to drip down and flavor them. It was heavenly! Alternately, you can make a warm bread salad if you serve the chicken atop pieces of day-old bread, some dark leafy greens, and dried currants and pine nuts.
- 1 small whole chicken, roughly 4 pounds with innards removed (bringing it down to room temperature, as I did in this recipe, will cut down cooking time)
- 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Pat the chicken dry with a towel. Spatchcock chicken as follows: remove the backbone of the chicken by cutting down with heavy knife or using poultry shears (at which point you can discard the backbone or save it for future stock-making). Lay the chicken breast-side up and press down to flatten it, so that it assumes a butterflied position. Using a knife, make cuts at joints: between the thigh and drumstick, and between the wing and breast. Note: in order to have it fit our cast-iron skillet, we completely removed each chicken thigh. This didn’t affect the process at all — I think the spatchcocking just makes for a visually nicer end product.
- Seasoning step: Feel free to follow the directions for a plainer garlic-flavored chicken or substitute with spices of your choice. Reach underneath the skin of the chicken and place minced garlic throughout (on the breast, thigh, back, and inner cavity).
- Rub the chicken with olive oil (reserving some to use in the pan) and season liberally with salt and pepper.
- On high heat, warm up a small amount of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. Starting breast-side down, cook chicken until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes on each side.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for roughly 35 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer, inserted in the meaty part of the thigh, registers 155-165 degrees F.
- Remove skillet from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before placing on wire rack or cutting board. Cut into 8 pieces, carve, and serve. You can also reserve the juices for other uses.
Tandoori roast chicken rub
- 3 tablespoons tandoori masala spice (I used a store-bought mix, but you can easily make your own with a well-stocked spice cabinet!)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground cracked black pepper
- Juice from 3 limes
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the masala spice and olive oil. Microwave for one minute (letting it “bloom,” or releasing the spices’ flavors).
- Pat the chicken dry with a towel. Place it in a large gallon Ziploc bag. Reaching underneath the skin, rub the spice paste into the flesh of the chicken (on the breast, back, and thighs). Seal bag and refrigerate for an hour, up to 24 hours.
- Follow the rest of the directions, above, for quick roasted chicken. Omit the seasoning step (that is, adding the olive oil and salt and pepper), or feel free to tweak. The addition of minced garlic would still be a great boost of flavor!