Splayed Chicken – Roast Chicken in 1 Hour

Home after flyball practice around 6:30 – Do i have time to roast a chicken? After a quick scour of the internet on a hunch that there’s some technique using 500 degrees and cast iron, i found a great recipe from the NY Times for “splayed chicken.” I skipped the 45 minutes of brining and bringing the chicken to room temp, but i got the jist of the recipe. It worked! It was delicious! It reminded me why i always quarter and de-fat/de-skin chicken: full roast chicken is SO decadent. I used 1 portabella, a leek and some squash but you could also use ramps, garlic scapes or any other veggie tucked in around the edges.

Splayed Roasted Chicken

If you have time to plan ahead, remove chicken from the refrigerator about an hour before cooking. Rinse, pat dry and salt liberally inside and out. Allow to rest on the counter to bring to room temp while the oven is preheating.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees with a large, well seasoned cast iron pan on a center rack. Preheat at least 10 minutes, preferably 20. Meanwhile, chop veggies to roast with the chicken. Avoid heavy root vegetables like potatoes that may stick to the pan or extend cooking time. I used 1 zucchini, 1 leek (well washed), 1 portabella mushroom and a hot pepper.

Prepare chicken: Cut the skin between the thigh and the breast-side of body and splay backwards until the joint pops. Place a few lemon wedges inside the carcass (or in my case the husk of what remains of my last two Meyer lemons after being juiced and zested) and some dried herbs like sage and rosemary. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and place on the stove top or other heatproof surface. Place the chicken back side down/breast side up into the pan and press down so that the legs sear against the pan. Roast for 25 minutes. Remove pan from oven again and tuck the veggies around the sides, stirring with the pan juices if possible. Stir every 10 to 15 minutes or so and continue to roast until the chicken is cooked through (to at least 160 degrees) and the drumsticks separate easily. Total cooking time for me was about one hour because my chicken was still cold. Total cooking time should be 40-50 minutes.

I served the breast with the wing on, slathered with the delicious pan juices and carmelized veggies. You could add a side of mashed potatoes or maybe some baked yam for a full on feast. I used the thighs for chicken salad for the next day’s lunch and cooked the carcass down all day to make some lentil stew for dinner. Whole roasted chicken is a fun treat, but man – those pan juices are decadent!

Bookmark this recipe for a fast roast for entertaining, weeknight dinners or a Sunday feast. You gotta love versatility!

What’s your favorite way to cook chicken: skinless/bonless healthy saute or roasted in decadent pan juices?

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