By guest blogger Paul Kita, food & nutrition editor at Men’s Health
You’ll need a skillet, some mayonnaise, and a brick…
Fast food tries to fool us about chicken. Ask a poultry farmer to point out the nugget on a Cornish Cross and watch what happens. Request that a butcher pack you up a bag of chicken “fries,” and you’ll receive something a little different than what Burger King offers.
Great chicken doesn’t need marketing—nor does it need to be dunked in a deep fryer to taste incredible. That’s why, right now, you should remind yourself about the wonders of exceptionally prepared poultry with this recipe for a roasted whole chicken.
When you cook a chicken whole, you enjoy the variety of light and dark meats. You’re allowed to drop your utensils and eat the meat right off the bone. You gain more appreciation and a deeper gratitude for the animal because advertisers haven’t removed you from the visceral experience.
Cooking a whole chicken is a little tricky, but that’s where this recipe steps in. By spatchcocking the bird, you help the meat cook more evenly (plus you get to walk around saying “spatchcock”). And by using a skillet and the weight of a brick, you help the luscious chicken skin roast to crispy perfection. Bonus: You’ll sneak in an arms workout just hauling the pan around.
Roast this whole chicken tonight. Savor the simple flavors. Dodge a duping from fast-food marketing.
Brick-Roasted Chicken with Lemon Vinaigrette
Recipe by Chef Ben O’Sullivan, executive chef of Hunt & Fish Club in New York City
Makes 4 servings
What you’ll need:
- 1 whole 2½- to 3-pound organic chicken
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ Tablespoon hot sauce, such as Frank’s RedHot
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus ½ Tablespoon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 Tablespoons canola oil
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
How to make it:
1. Pat the chicken dry and place it on a cutting board breast side down. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along one side of the backbone from the tail end to the neck end. Repeat on the other side to remove the backbone to save for chicken stock or discard. Next, using the tip of a sharp knife, cut along both sides of the breastbone. Then use your hands to pull out the breastbone and discard. (If you need more help, this video is a good one.)
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, hot sauce, and ½ tablespoon lemon juice. Place the chicken into a large dish, season both sides with salt and pepper, and spread the mayo mixture over the entire bird. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Wrap a brick in aluminum foil. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the canola oil. Grasp the chicken by the ends of both drumsticks and carefully lay the chicken breast-side down into the skillet. Place the foil-wrapped brick on top of the chicken and transfer everything to the oven.
4. Roast the chicken until the breast side is browned and crispy, about 12 to 16 minutes. Then remove the skillet, remove the brick, flip the chicken using tongs, replace the brick, and return everything to the oven. Roast the chicken until the skin is browned and crispy, the juices run clear, and the internal temperature of the thickest part of the leg reads at least 180°F, about 12 to 16 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a wire rack to rest for at least 5 minutes.
5. As the chicken roasts, make the lemon vinaigrette: In a small saucepot, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and oregano. Warm the mixture over medium-low.
6. To serve the chicken, transfer the chicken, breast-side up, to a clean cutting board. Using a chef’s knife, remove the two breasts and cut each into three pieces. Slice the joint to separate each thigh from each leg. Then hack off the wings. Divide the pieces among four plates. Add the parsley to the warmed vinaigrette, stir well, and then spoon the sauce over the chicken.
Paul Kita is a James Beard Award–winning food and nutrition writer and edits the How to Do Everything Better section of Men’s Health. He’s the founder of MensHealth.com’s popular food and cooking blog, Guy Gourmet. In 2013, he cowrote Guy Gourmet: Great Chefs’ Amazing Meals for a Lean & Healthy Body. Kita has appeared on the Travel Channel, as well as on numerous local radio and broadcast stations.