“The table was covered with food like roast chicken, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, roast turkey, roast liquorice and, the centrepiece, a roasted knight.”
- Elias Zapple
I’m not entirely sure what more one can write about roasting a chicken. What is there to talk about? It’s untouchable – pulling a roasted bird from an oven is a religious and sacred culinary act. It’s a sacrament of proficiency for every burgeoning cook.
Once you say you’re serving a roast chicken, all outside judgment is removed – any perceived lack of effort for not hand rolling pappardelle or folding egg whites into a souffle is thrown out the window because no one dares criticize a chicken. No one questions the cook when the roasted fowl is resting on its cutting board, sitting there for adoration.
This one is dry brined for a day and then spatchcocked so the breast isn’t the desert wilderness of Judea by the time the dark meat is finished. It’s then carved and unceremoniously slapped over a wedge of a giant potato latke, before being anointed with Italian salsa verde for a grassy finish.
Like all religions though, many will try to convince you that their denomination of chicken roasting is the best one of all. But that also means there isn’t one method that particularly stands out above the rest – they’re all different in each of their regards and become your favorite based off of the one making the most sense to you. Roasting a chicken is a journey of self discovery.
There’s really nothing else to say.
DRY-BRINED, SPATCHCOCKED ROASTED CHICKEN + GIANT POTATO LATKE
for the chicken
1 four to five pound chicken
liberal amounts of kosher salt
½ stick of unsalted butter
5-6 sprigs of rosemary
1 ½ teaspoons fennel seeds
1 lemon, peeled
1 head of garlic, cloves smashed
1 onion, cut into thick wedges
for the salsa verde
1 bunch of italian parsley, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
zest from 1/2 lemon
1 anchovy filet
1/2 cup of olive oil
for the potato latke
4 medium yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup grated onion
¼ cup all purpose flour
3/4 stick of butter, melted
4 more tablespoons of butter
Mise en place: spatchcocked chicken
Spatchcock the chicken: Flip the chicken over so that the breast is facing down. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone – you might have to wiggle it around if it snags on the bone. If you get stuck, rotate the chicken and start cutting from the neck end of the bird until you completely separate the backbone. Once it’s removed, you’ll have a flattened chicken - one side covered in skin, and the other with flesh and bone.
Flip the chicken over so the skin is side up, and push down on the breast to break the breast bone and fully flatten the chicken. Season both sides liberally with kosher salt (think a light snowfall of salt), and park it in the fridge for a few hours, and preferably overnight.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Melt together the butter, a few of the rosemary sprigs, rosemary, fennel seed, lemon peel, and 4 of the garlic cloves until foamy and fragrant. Let cool. On a rack over a sheet pan, arrange a layer of onion, remaining garlic cloves, the zested lemon, sliced, and more rosemary. Park the seasoned chicken on top, and brush over the infused butter. Roast until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees in between the thigh and the leg, or about 45 minutes. Let rest before carving.
Mise en place: italian salsa verde
Throw all of the ingredients in a food processor and chop roughly into it comes together into a pesto-like consistency (But whatever you do, don't call it pesto). Alternatively, you can finely mince everything by hand and add enough olive oil until you reach your desired consistency.
Mise en palce: Giant Potato Latke
Either by hand or using a mandoline, julienne the potatoes into very fine strips into a bowl of water. Swish the potatoes around, and drain and dry thoroughly to get rid of the excess starch. Combine with the grated onion, egg, and flour and season with kosher salt. Preheat 2 more tablespoons of butter in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Pour the potato mixture and press down into a flat cake.
Cook without disturbing for 5-6 minutes, until a solid crust has formed. Park it in the same oven as the chicken for 15 minutes. To flip the latke, slide it onto a plate, and place another plate on top. Flip the plates over, so now the crusty part is facing up. Now you can safely slide the flipped latke back into the pan with the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Let it brown for another 5 minutes. and you can keep it warm in the oven until you’re ready to carve and serve the chicken.