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.