Lemon Garlic Spatchcocked Chicken
Bright, Sweet, and Savory. Lemon and garlic, two very powerful ingredients with powerful flavors, pair wonderful in dishes like this. The sweet, floral notes of the lemon pair with the pungent, spicy bit of garlic. Throw in some thyme and you have a trio of flavors that will make any chicken fabulous.
As a kid, a young kid at least, I despised home cooked meals. I wanted cheeseburgers, pizza, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese – with a hot cut sliced up inside. I would pout and stomp my feet as I was dragged to the kitchen table. I’d turn my nose up at whatever disgusting – but in hindsight, delicious – dish sat in front of me. I didn’t want it. I hated it. Go away.
There was one exception. Only one exception. Whole-roasted chicken. I don’t know what it was. Perhaps it was the hour-long aromatic teaser that preluded the meal. Maybe it was the crispy, overly-seasoned-but-perfect skin. Or it could have been the juicy, tender chicken breast that somehow managed to absorb all of the flavors stuffed into the bird by my father a couple hours earlier.
I have always liked roast chicken. No. I always loved roast chicken. This is mom and dad’s roast chicken on steroids. I’m adding citrus for a sweet kick, turning the garlic up to 11, and covering it all with the beautifully subtle, earthy sweetness that can only come from thyme. Then spatchcock it, press it flat, and cook it over all of that, and your bird absorbs even more flavors.
This is my new favorite way to cook chicken.
Spatchcocked Chicken is a delicious take on whole roast chicken. Oh, and by the way, spatchcocked simply means to remove the backbone and flatten poultry for roasting or grilling. Simply use sharp kitchen shears, or a sharp chef’s knife to remove the backbone, then flatten the bird over the flavorings and a little stock to keep it moist, and you’ve got a quick, one-dish chicken.
Homemade Gravy is one of those recipes that I can eat by the spoonful. It’s also as easy as just thickening the cooking liquids that results from the bird or meat you are cooking. Here I remove the lemon and mash the garlic cloves, leaving the loose thyme leaves and onion in, for a chunky, sweet gravy.
- 1 whole chicken (4-6lbs)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 2 lemons, sliced
- 10 garlic cloves, smashed
- 20 thyme sprigs, whole
- 4 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Homemade Gravy (recipe below)
- Preheat an oven to 425°F.
- Prepare a whole chicken by washing and drying it. Remove any innards. Laying the chicken on its breast, use shears or a chef's knife to cut down both sides of the backbone. Remove. Turn the bird over and flatten it out - you will need to push hard enough to break the sternum. Set aside.
- Add the chicken stock, sliced onion, sliced lemon, smashed garlic cloves, and 18 of the thyme sprigs to a cast-iron skillet or heavy-duty roosting pan. Set aside.
- Rub the soft butter all over both sides of the chicken. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, cut-side down. Chop the remaining thyme leaves and sprinkle over the top of the bird.
- Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices run clear.
- Remove from the oven. Remove the chicken to a dish carefully, and save the liquid in the pan for gravy (see recipe below). Let the chicken rest a few minutes before carving.
- Reserved Cooking Liquid from above recipe (about 1-2 cups)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup flour
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Remove the lemon and thyme from the cooking liquid. Smash the garlic cloves. Add the extra 1 cup chicken stock. Heat the liquid over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil.
- In the meantime, mix together the soft butter and flour until a paste is formed. Add the paste to the boiling liquid and stir until dissolved. Reduce the heat but keep the gravy simmering. Cook until thickened.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
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