I do love a good roasted chicken. The challenge when roasting a chicken is making sure all the pieces of the chicken are evenly cooked through. The best way to ensure that is to spatchcock, or butterfly the chicken. That means the backbone is removed, and the chicken is pulled open like a book to allow it to lie flat.
You may have heard of flattened roasted chicken under a brick. This centuries old method of cooking chicken, called “pollo al mattone,” originated in a small town outside of Florence, Italy where it was often prepared for various religious celebrations. Pollo al mattone is a classic Tuscan recipe better known as chicken under a brick. In the past, heavy terra cotta pots were used to weigh down the flattened chicken so that it would connect with the hot cooking surface or grill.
My flattened roasted chicken recipe below is a simpler variation on this theme.
Flattened Roasted Chicken With Herbs
Ingredients: Makes 4 servings
- 4-pound chicken
- 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
- ½ cup good olive oil
- 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest (around 2 lemons)
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (around 3 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves – roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
- For the vegetables: 1 tablespoon of olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
- 1 lemon cut into 6 pieces
- 1 pound small Yukon gold potatoes cut in half
- 2 large carrots cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
- 1 stalk of Celery cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion cut into 6 to 8 wedges
Marinade for the chicken:
In a small bowl combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, and pepper, stirring until blended and set aside.
Prepare the chicken:
On a flat work surface, place the chicken breast-side down, with the neck of the chicken facing you. Using a good set of kitchen shears, from the opening of the neck, cut along the length of the backbone. Repeat the same process by cutting along the other side of the backbone. Remove the backbone and discard. Turn the chicken over and open it as if it were a book. Press down firmly to flatten the chicken as much as you can. You should hear the breastbone crack in the process. One last thing – I would suggest that you cut off the tips of the wings.
Place the chicken in a large Ziploc bag. Pour ½ of the marinade on each side of the chicken, squishing it around in the Ziploc bag to ensure the chicken is nicely coated. Press out as much air as possible and place the bagged chicken, flattened, on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or overnight, taking care to turn the chicken a few times to redistribute the marinade.
Prepare the Lemon and Vegetables:
Just before the chicken is finished marinating, place all the vegetables in a bowl and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt and a ½ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper and toss until coated. Cover and set aside.
Roasting the Chicken:
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Bring chicken to room temperature.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet or pan till hot. Add the vegetables. Sauté until till they start to carmelize. Distribute them evenly in the bottom of a large cast-iron baking pan or skillet. Remove the chicken from Ziploc bag and place it skin/breast side down on top of the vegetables. Place the lemon wedges around the chicken. Note: Make sure the pan is large enough, so the chicken lies completely flat. Let simmer on the stovetop for 5 minutes.
Place the skillet of veggies and chicken into the oven. Roast for 15 minutes. Flip the chicken to breast/skin side up and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to make sure the juices of the chicken run clear by piercing between the breast and leg with a small knife. You may use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, avoiding the bone, that should read 170° F.
When the chicken is finished cooking, move it from the pan onto a cutting board and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Reserve the vegetables. Cut the chicken into the desired pieces. Place the pieces or the whole flattened roasted chicken on a large platter and arrange the vegetables around it.
Wine Pairing Suggestions: Try a nice Chardonnay such as Dutton-Goldfield Winery Chardonnay:
“The long, friendly growing season enhanced the pear, tropical and stone fruit tones in our Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, framing the focused citrus and minerality that are always at the core of the wine. The citrus aromas lean toward Meyer lemon and tangerine this year, supported by pear/guava fruit elements and ginger/cream wood characters, inviting you in for a sip.”
Notes: Depending on your grocery store meat counter or butcher they may prepare the chicken for you, eliminating that step. If you do that, then all you need to do is marinate your spatchcock chicken. Any variations of a marinade will do; I happen to prefer this lemon herb marinade. It does make a very nice sauce. When marinating the chicken, you may use a 9×13 inch covered baking dish instead of the Ziploc bag. I prefer a Ziploc bag because it’s easier to turn the chicken to distribute the marinade. Any good heavy skillet or sauté pan will work as long as the pan and its handles can manage a 450° F oven. If you prefer this flattened roasted chicken with more vegetables, or just potatoes, or even different kinds of vegetables, that’s just fine.
My Flattened Roasted Chicken With Herbs is that easy. The part I like the best about this recipe is my ability to prepare it ahead of time before I actually cook it. When it comes out of the oven, either plated or in the pan, it makes a beautiful presentation with the taste to match. So get out those kitchen shears and your cast iron skillet and give this flattened roasted chicken a try.
Time to eat…
If you enjoyed my “Flattened Roasted Chicken With Herbs,” check out my Roasted Chicken Breast with Garlic Redskin Potatoes, Healthy Baked Fried Chicken, and Slow Cooker Chicken Stock.
P.S. Take a moment to check some of the tools I used for this flattened roasted chicken recipe below. 🙂