There’s something both comforting & celebratory about a roast chicken dinner. You can bung the chicken in the oven any old how & it’ll still smell & taste good but butterfly (spatchcock) the chicken first, spread herb & garlic butter under its skin & then roast it & you’ll be rewarded – it’s sublime & it’s how to make THE best roast chicken.
Birds weren’t designed well for sitting in a roasting pan, breast side up so the part with the least fat cooks the fastest, as it waits for the rest of the bird to cook. This often leads to a bird with a breast that’s a bit on the dry side. Or the breast is juicy but around the legs is questionable regarding doneness. Removing the back bone – a very simple process believe me, then turning the chicken over to reveal a flattened chicken that will now cook quickly & evenly throughout ensuring moist breast meat, is the best way to roast any foul.
Take 5 minutes to make a herb & garlic butter to spread underneath the skin of the chicken. This buttery mixture goes between the skin & the flesh of the chicken, permeating the whole bird with nostalgic flavors of rosemary, thyme, Italian parsley & garlic: I couldn’t think of flavors more suited to a roast chicken than the fresh herbs, garlic & butter combo.
Knowing how to make the best roast chicken is a must in any decent cook’s repertoire. And once you’ve mastered the technique of butterflying/spatchcocking a chicken (it really is very simple), you’ll probably not go back to your old method. I never roast a chicken any other way now. Sometimes I switch it up with the aromatics but the preparation is always the same & I’m always elated with the outcome. If you’ve never roasted a chicken in this manner I implore you to try. You too will become a convert. Cheers, Lovoni xo
PS. I usually serve this delicious chicken with steamed French beans (if I can find them) & carrots or mashed potatoes. A crisp, green salad would also work a treat. Oh & wine – any white wine, pinot noir or a crisp rose.
- 3 lbs (1.36kg) whole chicken
- 1/4 cup softened butter
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- a good pinch of coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Grease a wire rack and place it in a large baking dish or roasting pan. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Turn the chicken onto its breast on a cutting board. Using poultry or kitchen scissors or a sharp filleting or chef’s knife, cut down both sides of the backbone to remove it (discard the backbone or save it & add it homemade broth). Turn the chicken breast side up. Turn the legs in & tuck the wings behind the chicken (see pic of whole roasted chicken). Carefully run your fingers underneath the skin of the chicken loosening it from the flesh over the breast & legs - this is where you’re going to spread the butter mixture.
- Combine butter, parsley, rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt & pepper in a small bowl using a fork to mash it all together.
- Spread the butter mixture evenly between the skin and the flesh of the chicken across the breast & legs of chicken.
- Place the chicken, breast side up, on the prepared rack. Roast, uncovered, in the preheated oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the chicken is cooked and the juices run clear when chicken is pierced around the thigh bone or a meat thermometer reads 165°F (74°C) when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. Cover loosely with foil & let stand for 5 minutes to allow juices to settle. Chop or carve the chicken to serve. I generally remove the legs & the breast from the ribs, then the wings. It will serve 6 people (as per nutrition guidelines) but I think 3 to 4 generous portions is more realistic.
- If you're feeling so inclined, reserve the pan juices, add a splash of sherry & reduce the mixture to give you a spoonfuls of buttery pan drippings to serve with the chicken.
Isn’t it a wonderful way to roast chicken? I’m glad you love it too. And you’re right, there’s so many different flavourings one can to infuse the chicken.
I made this exactly as Lovoni’s recipe stated, and it was fabulous. I always have my chicken spatchcocked, as it does cook evenly, looks pretty and taste delicious. No part is overcooked or dried out. This recipe also opens up the door for me to create other “under the skin” flavors and tastes, depending which herbs I have. This one is a keeper, for sure.