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Recipe for spatchcocked roast chicken with herbs and mustard

Sheryl Julian

Serves 4

"Spatchcocked" is the word for a chicken that has been butterflied and flattened. To do this, you need kitchen shears. Snip along either side of the backbone, lift it out (freeze for making stock another time), then turn the chicken breast side up and open it so the surfaces you just snipped along sit on either side of the bird — as if you had set down an opened paperback book cover sides up. With your hand, press down firmly on the breastbone to flatten it. It isn't as hard as it sounds, and it doesn't matter if you don't get it quite right because it won't be noticeable once the chicken is cut up. To ensure crisp skin, slide a hand between the skin and flesh at the neck end of the bird and along the thigh to make air pockets. If you have time to let the bird sit, rub it with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Set it in a roasting pan and leave it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and for up to 1 day to dry out. Do not cover the bird. For extra flavor, tuck a little Dijon mustard and olive oil under the skin, and sprinkle with herbs. A spatchcocked bird roasts in 40 minutes.

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1 whole chicken (3½ to 4 pounds), spatchcocked as directed above
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons, 1 very thinly sliced and 1 cut into quarters
4 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (oregano, marjoram, thyme)

1. Set the bird on a cutting board and sprinkle all over with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

2. In a bowl, mix the mustard and the 2 tablespoons olive oil to blend them. Carefully ease the tips of your fingers between the skin and flesh of the bird at the neck end of the breasts. Use a small spoon to add 1 tablespoon of the mustard mixture to the right side of the breast under the skin, and 1 tablespoon to the left side. Press the skin in to spread it. Then ease your fingers between the skin and flesh along the thigh and add mustard mixture to both sides in the same way.

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3. Set the bird in a roasting pan. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 2 to 24 hours.

4. Remove the bird from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

5. Set the oven at 400 degrees.

6. Tuck the lemon slices under the chicken and around the edges. Sprinkle the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the herbs.

7. Roast the chicken for 40 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees.

8. Use poultry shears to cut the chicken into 10 pieces — 2 wings with a little breast meat attached to each piece, 4 pieces of breasts (each breast halved horizontally), 2 thighs, and 2 drumsticks. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons herbs and serve with lemon wedges. Sheryl Julian


Sheryl Julian can be reached at sheryl.julian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.