I recently wanted to make a roast chicken, but I didn’t want to rub it with oil, and stuff it with mixed fresh herbs. I didn’t want to cook it on a bed of sliced onions, or baste it with melted butter and broth. I didn’t want to tuck anything under the skin.
And I didn’t want it to take up my whole day.
I did want a roast chicken, moist and flavourful, with lemon and parsley; just without all those steps and messing about with the bird.
So I asked the butcher to cut out the backbone and flatten the chicken for me so I could cook it without stuffing flavourful ingredients inside. Instead I would flavour from the outside.
I used a large cast iron pan, hot with oil and melted butter, lemon juice and parsley. After seasoning with plenty of salt and fresh black pepper I cooked the chicken breast-side down for 5 minutes, then transferred the entire pan to a very hot oven for 45 minutes. Once the chicken was nearly cooked, I turned it over and finished the roasting breast side-up.
After a rest on the counter, more lemon and parsley, and a some spoonfuls of lemony juices from the pan poured over the crispy meat, I had what I’d come for: Flattened roast chicken with lemon and parsley.
Read through the steps listed in the method: I know it looks like a lot of steps, but they’re simple to do. You’ll need a large cast iron skillet or heavy stove- and oven-proof pan for this recipe, a minimum size of 10”.
Flattened roast chicken with lemon and parsley INGREDIENTS:
- 1 whole chicken, backbone removed. The butcher will cut the backbone out if you ask them to do it for you, or if you’re confident, you can cut it out yourself. After watching it done a couple of times, I now do it myself.
- 1 lemon, divided: cut the lemon into 4 thin slices, and reserve; cut the remaining lemon in ½ so you have 2 large wedges
- 4 sprigs of fresh parsley, leaves and stems chopped; reserve 1 tbsp for garnish
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- Salt & pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 425 and leave a rack in the centre or bottom third of the oven
- Combine the butter and olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet or shallow casserole dish, and heat over the higher end of medium low
- Once the butter has melted add the chopped parsley, 2 generous pinches of each salt and black pepper, and squeeze the juice from 1 of the 2 lemon wedges into the pan
- Open the chicken out so it is flat, and place it meaty breast side down, tucking the wings into the edges of the pan; leave it untouched for 5 minutes
- Meanwhile, generously season the inside of the chicken, the part that is now revealed as the breast meat is sizzling in the pan
- After 5 minutes has passed, transfer the pan into the hot oven and cook for 45 minutes
- Carefully remove the pan from the oven and spoon some of the lemony juices from the edges of the pan over the chicken. Using tongs (or maybe tongs as well as a metal spatula), loosen the chicken from the pan and flip it over, breast side up
- Return the pan of chicken to the oven and cook another 15 minutes
- Again remove the chicken in its pan from the oven, and again spoon juices over the meat; check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer: the chicken’s internal temperature should be 165F/75C. If the chicken isn’t cooked yet, return to the oven and continue cooking until it reaches the correct temperature
- Let the chicken rest in the pan on the counter/stove top for 5 minutes before serving; during that time, squeeze the juice from the remaining piece of lemon over the chicken; serve with the reserved chopped parsley scattered over and garnish with the thinly sliced lemon