The latest fashion in turkey-roasting this Thanksgiving was butterflying the bird (cutting out the backbone and flattening the turkey to cook it more evenly), but if you missed the butterflied-turkey parade, you can still experiment with applying the same technique to a chicken. In fact, a chicken is even better to learn on, since it’s not quite so huge and intimidating to handle and doesn’t take as long to cook.
The culinary theory behind butterflying is very simple: it allows the breasts and the legs to cook more evenly. With all the parts of the chicken at the same height, the heat in the oven will reach them more evenly. This way, you don’t get dried-out breasts or undercooked thighs; all the parts of the bird are done at the same time, and all the meat is juicy and delicious.
One great thing about such guaranteed-delicious meat is that you don’t need to spend a lot of time fussing with the seasonings. All you need is a little rosemary, salt, and pepper, with some olive oil to crisp the skin and a sprinkle of lemon juice as it lands on your plate. For extra convenience, this recipe includes directions for roasting some vegetables in the same pan, making an entire family dinner ready to go with very minimal work. You can add sweet potatoes or whatever else you like to the vegetables, or adjust the amounts to fit however many people you need to serve. And don’t forget to save the bones and the back for a big pot of bone broth to enjoy in soups, stews, and roasts later on!
Butterflied Roasted Chicken Recipe
- 1 whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry;
- 3 tbsp. melted Paleo cooking fat;
- 3 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped;
- 2 onions, peeled and quartered;
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced;
- 2 bell peppers, chopped;
- 2 lemons, halved;
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;
- Preheat your oven to 400 F.
- Place the chicken, breast-side down, on a cutting board. Cut along both sides of the backbone from end to end with kitchen shears and remove the backbone. Flip the chicken breast-side up, and open it like a book. Press firmly on the breasts with your palm to flatten.
- Save the backbone for some homemade stock.
- In a small bowl, combine the cooking fat and 2 tbsp. of the rosemary.
- Rub the chicken with 2/3 of the fat/rosemary mixture and season the chicken to taste with sea salt and ground pepper.
- Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Place the chicken on the baking sheet and surround it with the vegetables and the lemons.
- Pour the remaining fat/rosemary mixture over the vegetables and season to taste.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 1 hour or until a meat thermometer reads 165 F in the thickest part of the breast.
- Remove chicken from oven, squeeze some lemon juice over it, and serve.