Spatchcocking the chicken means it roasts more quickly, and stays juicier for it. I make a simple, Provence-inspired compound butter full of lavender blossoms, thyme leaves, lemon, honey, and olive oil. Rub this all over a salted and peppered spatchcocked chicken, and roast at 400 degrees for forty-five minutes. I roast lemon wedges alongside to play up the Provençal sweet-and-sour flavors of the chicken. The skin comes out fragrant and scorched; the meat bright and juicy. I serve the chicken with its pan juices and roasted lemons on top of warm toasted pain au levain.
- 1 whole small chicken (3 to 3 1/2 pounds)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1/2 lemon, the other half cut into wedges
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried lavender
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1 loaf hearty sourdough bread
Preheat the oven to 400°F with the rack in the center. Cut the backbone out of the chicken with kitchen shears. Lay the the chicken breast-side-up in an enameled baking dish. Press down on the breast bone to break, so that the chicken lies flat. Season generously, front and back, with salt and pepper.
In a bowl, mix together lemon juice, lemon zest, lavender, thyme, and the olive oil, and honey. Stir to combine. Add the butter, and using a fork, mash the mixture together until homogenous
Slather the lemon, lavender, and honey butter all over the top and underside of the chicken. Roast for 20 minutes. Nestle lemon wedges under chicken and return to oven. Continue roasting until until golden with charred bits and an instant read thermometer inserted into breast registers 150°F and the thighs and legs register at least 165°F, 15 to 25 minutes longer.
Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut it in half. Serve with pan juices and roasted lemon wedges, along with bread for soaking up juices.