Photo Credit: Lauren Volo
Spatchcocking a chicken, that is, removing the backbone and ribcage so it can be opened up flat, allows the bird to cook more quickly and to make better contact with the hot pan, resulting in a crisp skin and juicy meat. You can ask the butcher to do it for you, but once you’ve done it once or twice you’ll realize it’s quite a simple procedure, easily accomplished with poultry shears (tutorial here).
Preserved Lemon and Herb Chicken
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons minced preserved lemon see Cook's Note
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 3 1/2-pound chicken, spatchcocked
- Juice of half a lemon to be squeezed over chicken
- 1/2 cup baby arugula
- 1/4 cup basil leaves
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- In the bowl of a food processor, puree together the garlic, thyme, pepper flakes, preserved lemon, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil to form a paste. Loosen the skin from the breast and legs of the chicken by gently working your fingers between the flesh and skin, being careful not to tear it.
- Rub 3/4 of the herb paste under the skin of the chicken, spreading it evenly over all of the parts. Turn the chicken over and rub the remainder of the paste on the flesh side of the chicken. Place the chicken in a resealable plastic bag and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Allow the bird to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before starting to cook. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, being careful not to remove any of the herb paste.
- Season the chicken on both sides with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and add to the hot pan, skin-side down. Weight the bird with a brick wrapped in foil or a heavy smaller pan. Sear the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the weight, flip the chicken so the skin side is up, and transfer the pan to the preheated oven. Cook for 30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160°F.
- Transfer the bird to a platter and immediately squeeze the half lemon over the meat side of the chicken. Turn the chicken skin-side up and allow to rest for 15 minutes; the residual heat will finish cooking the bird. Sprinkle with the arugula, basil leaves, and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and serve.