a home cook with notions & an appetite
Welcome to Test Chicken #4. This chicken actually reigned supreme for a bit, despite its overly crispy appearance (I promise that this looks far worse in photograph form than in real life). This is Alton Brown’s B&B (Butterflied and Broiled) chicken and was featured on Good Eats. As such, there is a version of the recipe on the food network site. I did not use that version. I used the updated version found in Good Eats: The Early Years that updates the cooking time, along with a comment from video of the episode. (Bonus on that video – around the 2 minute mark, you can see the butterflying method in action.)
So, the ingredients for this bird:
The first six ingredients make for a gremolata that will be massaged under the skin of my bird:
Whole peppercorns were crushed in my mortar with the pestle. Garlic was sliced a bit then added and crushed with salt. Once the garlic got a bit juicy, the zest of one lemon was added and more crushing applied. Once all of that was thoroughly mixed, the teaspoon of parsley and 2 tablespoons of olive oil were added to make a paste.
These were my over-the hill veggies. The potatoes looked even worse before they were peeled. These really were quickly chopped and dumped in a metal roasting pan (key for this recipe, as the roasting pan needed to survive my stove’s burners later.
It was now time to butterfly my chicken. Key to this operation was a pair of heavy-duty kitchen sheers, a sharp knife and my own brute strength:
I flipped the chicken over and made a quick slit along both sides of the backbone. These slits served as easy guides for my kitchen shears (cutting through skin is not fun). Once I cut through both sides of the back bone, I simply lifted it out and spread open the chicken. Once the chicken was open, the membrane covering the keel bone was visible and I used a knife to cut through that. After that, I simply used my fingers to work my way under the keel bone so I could lift it out of the chicken. Once I was at the “sweet spot,” it really was easy to lift out the bone (the trick is not to force it until you really have it well released from the breast). At this point, you can flip the bird over and massage the gremolata under the skin. I cannot stress how easy this step is with a butterflied bird.
Did I mention that my broiler was preheating? Yes, broiler. This is not so much a roasted chicken as it is a broiled chicken, but I’m counting it. After massaging the bird under the skin with the gremolata, I massaged the outside with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Chicken went skin-side down first into the roasting pan (there is flipping):
The first broil was 25 minutes – you can see the lovely char on the rib bones. I then flipped the bird, seasoned it with salt and roasted it for 25 more minutes (when my thighs were measuring 160 degrees). If you look back at the main photo, you can see my draining rig for the bird – a cooling rack set over another roasting pan – that the bird rested on while I concentrated on making the jus.
The veggies have just about given their all, but this recipe soaks the last bit of goodness out of them. Putting my roasting pan over two burners set to high, I added both the wine and broth to the pan and stirred to deglaze the pan of all veggie and chicken goodness. Once I’d loosened everything, I took out the veggies (they’d given their all) and I boiled the liquid until it reduced to a cup. The good news is that in a large roasting pan set over two burners, this only took about 2 minutes. Once I separated the fat (I set a Ziploc baggie in a Pyrex measuring cup and wait a few minutes for the fat to rise to the top and then cut a corner off the bottom of the baggie and drain the liquid into another cup until I get to the fat layer), I had jus.
This is phenomenal chicken. Juicy and succulent with crispy skin. The gremolata brings a terrific garlic-lemon flavor to the party which ends up as a pleasant undertone in the jus. This jus, by the by, which simply brings a lovely extra flavor profile from the old veggies you might otherwise chuck in a few days for being “gross” but a perfectly usable in this application. Do yourself a favor and try this – using the longer cook times from the book – and trust that you can butterfly a chicken when it means chicken this good.