Did you know there was a right way and a wrong way? Did you know that the wrong way is probably the way your mother did it, your grandmother did it, and you’ve done it all your life?
Personally, I’m fine with whatever floats your boat. If you want to tie your chicken up all nice and pretty and have the picture of a traditional chicken dinner, that’s cool. If you want to roast it breast-down to keep the white meat moist, that’s cool too (although it takes considerably longer than the method I’m about to propose).
I would like to suggest that you try roasting your chicken a different way just once. It’s quick, it’s tasty, and it’s easier to cut apart into manageable pieces. Plus I think it’s pretty and looks rather impressive, even though it really takes no more time to prepare than your normal (read: “wrong”) roast chicken.
The secret is butterflying.
Basic technique: Cut the spine out of the chicken, spread it out, and lay it flat on a rack in a cookie sheet. Roast 45 minutes and you’re done. Now chop it up into leg quarters, breasts, wings, and serve.
This article explains the background and the science behind why butterflying your chicken evens out the cooking and gives you a better finished product – dark meat that’s done, white meat that’s moist and not overcooked. It’s really a fascinating read if you like science, and food. But more if you like food, because I don’t really like science but I do like the science of food.
Here’s what I did:
Butterflied Roasted Chicken (Adapted from here)
- 1 chicken, about 3 1/2 to 4 lbs
- Olive oil, salt and pepper
- Additional spices if desired
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse chicken, remove giblets and neck if applicable and feed them to your dog and cats who will love you for it.
Cut the spine out of the back of the chicken, using sharp kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Lay flat, skin-side up, on a rack in a foil-covered cookie sheet (with edges).
Roast approximately 45 minutes, or until thickest part of breast reaches 150 degrees and joint between thigh and body reaches 170 degrees.
Remove from oven, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes before carving.