Monday, August 28, 2006

Sunday Chicken Dinner

Okay, it was actually Monday chicken dinner, since I didn't get around to making it yesterday. But fortunately, as the picture demonstrates, I've recently discovered the wonder of butterflying (aka spatchcocking) a chicken, which actually makes roast chicken do-able for a weekday dinner. Spatchcocking has a bunch advantages - the meat cooks faster and more evenly, and it's a cinch to carve. It's ideal if you want to grill a whole chicken. But on day 3 of rain here in Ann Arbor, I was happy to use my oven.

Since this was a weeknight dinner, I prepped the chicken last night to save myself some time and effort today. Butterflying a chicken is easy - you just cut out the backbone with kitchen shears, turn it over, then push down firmly on the breastbone, cracking it and allowing the chicken to flatten out. (Follow the link above for an illustrated guide.) For seasoning, I made a paste of crushed garlic, finely minced rosemary, salt, pepper and a little olive oil and rubbed it under the skin on the breasts and legs - you can see a little bit of the green through the skin in the picture. Then I put salt and pepper on the outside, covered it and put in the fridge. So all I had to do when I got home was preheat the oven and get it in.

While the oven was preheating, I started prepping some veggies for roasting. I put the beets off to one side for color preservation purposes, and so as not to taint my beet-hating husband's portion of the veggies. I tossed everything with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and handful of garlic cloves still in the paper, and put that in the oven with the chicken. Voila - now nothing to do except wait for it to be done.
Well, there was one more thing - slicing up some great local heirloom tomatoes for a little tomato salad. I had four different color tomatoes which would have been beautiful all together, but I knew that that would be too much for just two adults and one non-tomato-eating toddler, so I picked two.
I cooked everything at 400 degrees F. The chicken took less than an hour from start to finish. The veggies took about the same amount of time, but went in later, which made the timing perfect for them to just finished when the chicken had finished its 15 minute rest.

With a 4.5 lb chicken and only the three of us, I knew we'd have a bunch leftover. I carved off the breasts and served those tonight, then pulled the rest of the meat off the bones and put it away for soup or casserole making later this week.

The meat was juicy and flavorful, and infused with a mild garlic rosemary flavor/ aroma. The roasted vegetables were great - the slightly crispy potatoes, sweet carrots, and earthy beets made for a nice combination of flavors, textures and colors. And it's hard to go wrong with fresh picked tomatoes this time of year.

No comments: