If it weren't already clear, Jacques Pépin seems to have been crowned the master of chicken cookery around here. Whether it's his chicken thighs crisped up slowly in a covered nonstick pan, or Nick's recent foray into a spicy ginger and lemon dish, the man has done wonders for cooking this oft-consumed but difficult-to-master cut of meat. I, for one, am always overcooking my chicken and need all the help I can get.
A twist on roast chicken, this technique from a recipe in Food & Wine tackles the problem of the breast meat drying out by the time the thighs are ready due to the thighs taking longer to cook. Cutting out the backbone and flattening the chicken changes the playing field. Make a slash through the leg to speed up cooking, and the chicken can now be cooked all at once to the same degree of doneness. It really works, with each piece remaining juicy and succulent.
It also helps that Pépin douses the bird in a complex yet simple-to-make sauce of garlic, mustard, soy sauce, hot sauce, herbs, and white wine. After a quick 30-minute trip in the oven, one of the better roast chickens I've eaten was on the table.
- One 4-pound chicken
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 450°F. In the meantime, place the chicken on a cutting board breast-side down and, using kitchen shears, cut along either side of the backbone to remove it. Flip the chicken over and press gently but firmly onto the breastbone until the chicken flattens. Using a sharp knife, slash partway through both sides of the joint between the thigh and the leg. Do the same for the joint between the wing and breast.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk well to combine. In a large over-proof skillet, place the chicken skin-side down and pour half the sauce over it, rubbing it into the flesh. Turn the chicken over and pour the remaining sauce onto it.
Place the skillet over high heat for about 5 minutes, until the chicken begins to sizzle and brown. Transfer to the oven and roast for about 30 minutes until the skin is crackly and the chicken is cooked through. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before carving.