The key to this Split Roast Chicken is ‘spatchcocking,’ a technique that allows for quicker cooking and more flavor in every bite
Besides my Grandma’s spaghetti and meatballs, no other meal says Sunday dinner quite like a roast chicken. It is one of my absolute favorite family meals because it is easy to make, the house smells divine while it cooks, and the leftovers are endlessly versatile. This Split Roast Chicken recipe combines all the flavor of my favorite lemon thyme butter rub with the speed and convenience of spatchcocking.
Although I’ve never been particularly comfortable with the term “spatchcock,” its basically just a fancy term for cutting the backbone out of a chicken in order to lay it flat for roasting. You can do this at home but it can be difficult if you don’t have a set of really sharp kitchen shears. Its much, much, MUCH easier to simply ask your butcher to do it. Just ask them to cut the backbone out so that the chicken lays flat. They’ll take care of it in no time at all. Even if it sounds awful, the results are amazing. Laying the chicken flat to roast significantly increases surface area, allowing you to get your seasonings into every crack and crevice plus — and this is the important part — it reduces roasting time by up to half. So, a meal that would normally take an hour or two can be cooked in 30 or 40 minutes. If you’re feeling aggressive, you could attempt to make one of these on a weeknight.
Even with that quick cooking time, in my mind, Split Roast Chicken will likely always be a Sunday dinner. Its one of our favorite things to make on nights when it feels like its been way too long since we’ve cleared the clutter from the dining room table, turned off all the screens and truly enjoyed a family meal.
We don’t expect to see much of Jon this week due to a particularly intense work schedule, so last night was chicken night. Jon made his velvety mashed potatoes. I steamed some broccoli and made a basket of warm bread. Lilly said the prayer and the kids helped with dishes before a rather heated game of Memory. For an hour or two, all was right in the world. Roast chicken has that effect I guess.
Split Roast Chicken with Lemon and Thyme
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 (3 to 3 1/2 lb.) whole chicken, backbone removed so that it lays flat (ask your butcher)
2 tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, sliced
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place a large cast iron skillet in the oven while it preheats.
- Combine thyme, garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper and butter in a small bowl. Pat chicken dry on all sides with paper towels. Carefully separate skin on each chicken breast away from bone and place about 1 teaspoon of the butter mixture under the skin in each breast, spreading gently over meat. Spread remaining butter mixture evenly over the inside and outside of the chicken.
- When oven reaches 425 degrees, remove skillet and drizzle a small amount of oil in the bottom of the pan. Carefully arrange chicken in the pan, breast side up and drizzle chicken with remaining olive oil. Arrange lemon slices around chicken and place in the center of the oven to bake.
- Bake chicken for 30-40 minutes, basting periodically with pan juices, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 155 degrees. Remove pan from oven and allow chicken to rest and continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Serve immediately.