A whole chicken is more economical than parts, but it does take longer to cook. Shave off some roasting time by butterflying the bird and cooking it under bricks. The real bonus here is very crisp skin. In Italy the dish is pollo al mattone; British cooks also flatten chickens in a technique they call spatchcock (though they don’t cook it under a weight). You don’t need a brick, by the way, a heavy pan will do. Removing the backbone before flattening isn’t very difficult (ask a butcher to do this or tackle it with poultry shears). Then sear the bird in a skillet, skin side down, and finish it in the oven. Cook the kale in the same skillet with bacon and pine nuts to make use of all the good flavors on the bottom of the pan. Put on a pot of barley and you have a satisfying meal.
A day or two later, brown some mushrooms, add scallions, carrots, some of the roast chicken, kale, and barley. Your colorful weeknight meal should only take minutes.
(For chicken under a brick, mushroom-barley pilaf)
1 whole chicken (4 1/2 pounds)
3 slices thick-cut bacon
2 pounds kale
10 ounces button, shiitake, or baby portobello mushrooms
1 bunch scallions
1 large clove garlic
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups pearl barley
6 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 cup pine nuts
Sally Vargas can be reached at sally.p.vargas@gmail.