Friday, August 1, 2014

Foodie Fridays: Butterflied Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

Non-butterflied Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary
(see Note below)

If you have never seen a copy of Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer cookbook (currently published as Nigella Summer), now would be a great time to check it out!  I own several of Lawson's books, but this is the first one I bought and it remains my favorite.  Although summer is my least favorite season, I am willing to endure the heat, humidity, and vicious insects that define summer in the South for a chance to enjoy these recipes at the proper time of year.

Butterflied Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary is easy to make and quite tasty, but it does need to cook in a hot oven for a long time.  The recipe mentions that the chicken can remain in the oven at 300 degrees to be kept warm after it is cooked and it won't dry out, so I roast the bird (marinated overnight) early in the morning and reheat it at 300 degrees just before serving.  This was the perfect solution when we lived in Colorado where the early hours are always cool in the summer.  However, if you live in the South like we do now, be sure not to choose one of those mornings when the humidity feels downright viscous and the low temperature for the day stays above seventy degrees!  The chicken could probably be grilled outdoors to keep from heating up the kitchen, but I don't grill so I can't give any tips on that.  You may want to look at this site, which gives detailed instructions on flattening and grilling a whole chicken that should work for this recipe.  Once you've made this chicken you will discover just how effortless it really is, and it may become one of your favorites as well!

Butterflied Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

1 butterflied chicken (about 4 lbs.)
3 long sprigs fresh rosemary
1 lemon, halved
1 red onion, cut into eight pieces
6 T. olive oil
salt to taste (sea salt or kosher salt work well)

Place the chicken in a large freezer bag (2.5 gallon size).  Pull the needles off of two rosemary springs and add them to the bag.  Squeeze the juice from the lemon halves into the bag, and add the squeezed halves to the bag along with the onion pieces.  Pour in the olive oil, add salt to taste, seal the bag (pushing out as much air as possible), and massage the bag to coat the chicken with the marinade.  Refrigerate for at least two hours or up to two days.

Allow the bag to come to room temperature (about 20-30 minutes) before pouring the contents into an oiled baking pan.  Turn the flattened chicken skin side up.  Tuck the lemon halves, onion pieces, and remaining rosemary sprig (torn into a few segments) snugly around the chicken and top with more olive oil, plus a bit of salt if desired.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes, until the skin is crisp and the meat is tender.  Cut the chicken into four sections, surround with the onion, and pour any pan juices over the top.  Serves 2-4, depending upon appetite.

Note: I really dislike handling raw meat, so I asked the butcher at one of our local Kroger supermarkets to butterfly a whole broiler chicken for me by cutting out the backbone.  Unfortunately, the butcher was young and inexperienced, and he proceeded to split the breast.  This totally defeats the purpose, which is to create a whole, flattened bird.  I had to take out the backbone myself and ended up with two halves instead.  Fortunately the recipe is very forgiving and halves work just fine -- just remember to tuck the wing tips under before roasting as they will be sticking up, making them vulnerable to burning.  You could also use four pre-cut chicken quarters.

Chicken properly butterflied, and recipe doubled
(from Food Lust People Love)

This is what the cover of my 2003 hardcover
copy of the cookbook looks like.

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