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Butterflied Chicken with Rosemary, Garlic and Lemon


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  • 1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs.), giblets removed
  • 2-3 Tables. olive oil
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, leaves torn off 2 of them
  • Thyme
  • Lemon Pepper
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 lemon, cut into 6 pieces
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 lemon, for garnish



Step 1

First, preheat the oven to 400 F. Then, rinse the chicken (including the cavity) and dry the beast thoroughly with paper towels. Place it on a cutting board (with an optional sheet of wax paper underneath for cleanliness), breast side down and backbone side up. Arrange it so that the neck is facing you. Cut along either side of the backbone. You’ll hear some crunches, but shouldn’t encounter any major obstacles. If you do, adjust your course accordingly. Once you’ve cut all the way through, cut through the left side as well and simply remove the entire backbone. Remove the backbone and throw it away.

At this point you’ll see some extra skin and fat hanging around the bottom–cut that out. Turn the chicken over, and firmly press on the breastbone to break it. Now that the chicken is splayed out, pat it dry again with more paper towels (the drier you can get it, the crisper the skin will bake up).

Spread a layer of parchment paper on a large baking sheet, and slap the butterflied chicken on it, skin side up. Pour the olive oil over the chicken, sprinkle on the rosemary leaves, thyme, lemon pepper, and generously season it with salt and pepper, spreading the oil and seasoning over the entire surface with your fingers.

Break apart the head of garlic. Roughly chop the lemon into 6 pieces. Distribute the garlic and lemon all around and underneath the chicken. You can stuff some garlic under the skin if you want to add to the flavor. Toss a couple whole sprigs of rosemary underneath it.

Roast it for 35-45 minutes (test for doneness at 35). And let me add–please don’t overcook it. If the juices are running clear, you’re probably good to go. But the difference between a chicken overcooked by 10 minutes (starting to get dry and fibrous) and a perfectly cooked chicken (think al dente pasta) is amazing. When it’s moist and just done, it’s an experience to be treasured bite by bite. Overcooking makes it mediocre and blah. The USDA will tell you to go to 170 in the breast, but keep in mind that their recommendation errs on the high end. The dry end. The fibrous end. I cooked my chicken to 160 in the thick part of the breast. For my taste, perfect!

Optional step: 10 minutes before it’s done, you can grab a stick of butter and smear it over the top. This will give the skin the lovely golden brown color.

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