Growing up, I was always pleased when my mom was making a roasted chicken for dinner. The rich, savory aroma filled the house for hours as it cooked. If I was really lucky, there would also be a heaping bowl full of mashed potatoes too and some crunchy, steamed green beans.
Recently, as I walked through the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, I was inspired to recreate this favorite childhood meal with local ingredients and some of my own twists. I decided to prepare a Crispy Skinned Spatchcocked Chicken, garlicky green beans, mashed potatoes, and a lemony pan sauce out of the backbone.
Spatchcocking, or butterflying, is when you remove the backbone from a piece of poultry, often using shears. This allows the bird to cook more quickly and evenly, making for a moist and crispy skinned bird.
Two of the following recipes were adapted from Samin Nosrat’s book, Salt Fat Acid Heat. It is, without a doubt, my favorite cookbook. This might be because it doesn’t feel like a cookbook; it feels like Samin Nosrat is talking directly to you as she shares her cooking anecdotes and tips. This book empowers you to learn the tenets of cooking without a recipe, rather than acting as a cooking manual. Find it at a local bookstore near you!
Crispy Skinned Spatchcocked Chicken (from Salt Fat Acid Heat)
4lb whole chicken, patted dry
extra virgin olive oil
To begin, you must carefully cut out the backbone of the chicken and break the breast bone. This is done by flipping the chicken onto the breast side. With one hand holding the chicken steady, use kitchen shears, and begin snipping alongside the spine starting at the tail. Repeat the same thing on the other side of the spine. (Save the backbone for a lemony garlicky pan sauce.) Flip chicken over, place hands one over the other on top of the chicken’s breasts, and press firmly down to flatten. Place chicken into a 13×9 pan and salt on both sides. Leave in fridge, uncovered for 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
Take chicken out of fridge an hour before cooking. After an hour, preheat oven to 425 degrees and heat enough olive oil to cover your 8-10inch cast iron pan over medium high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, carefully place chicken breast side down into the pan (be careful of spattering oil!). Let cook for 6-8 minutes until the skin is golden brown. Using either a large set of tongs or two medium sized ones, carefully flip the chicken over in the pan. Place pan into preheated oven for 20 minutes. Rotate pan and cook for another 30-40 minutes (my chicken was closer to 3lbs so it took only 30 more minutes), until the thickest part of the thigh reads 165degrees F.
While the chicken is in the oven you can make the sides!
Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme Pan Sauce
Heat olive oil in pan. Add the chicken backbone and sear on all sides. Add a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft. Add thyme, lemon juice and chicken broth. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain out large pieces and bring liquid up to a boil again. Scoop out a cup of liquid and whisk in cornstarch. Add mixture to hot liquid and whisk until smooth. The sauce should thicken and become gravy-like in texture. Salt and pepper as needed.
Garlicky Green Beans (also based off a recipe from Salt Fat Acid Heat)
Steam the green beans in a little water and salt. Until they are bright green. Drain and immediately put in an ice bath. Heat oil and butter on the stove and add garlic. Let cook briefly and add green beans. Stir occasionally and cook until tender, yet crisp. Salt and pepper as needed.
Red Skin Mashed Potatoes
Bring potatoes to a boil with plenty of salt. Cook until tender when prodded with a fork. Drain. Add butter and a hearty splash of milk, and begin mashing. Add salt and pepper as you’d like. Mash to desired smoothness.
I hope you enjoy this meal using delightful local ingredients with your family and friends!
Emma Beauchamp is the former Communications Manager for Taste the Local Difference.