I have many cookbooks which I love reading and leafing through from time to time, but to be completely honest, I don't cook from those books too often. I read them, I make a mental note that I'd like to make this or that dish, but I usually don't have needed ingredients on hand and then by the time I go to a supermarket I forget about the recipe and end up making something simple and familiar. It is rare that I find a recipe and then go out to buy food to make it. Well, this particular recipe is an exception to the rule. I saw it on my iPhone app (Food52 Holiday Recipes) and got really curious. I had everything on hand already except the chicken, so I got a big pack of three whole chickens at Costco and made it that same night. I liked it so much, that I made it the next night again.
This technique yields moist flavourful chicken with the most crispy crackling skin imaginable. The sauce is lemony, savoury and can make any grain taste like a star of the meal. I had some leftover gravy that I poured over quinoa for lunch and I did not miss chicken at all. This recipe requires a little bit more steps and skills, but it is still easy and relatively quick, only about 20 min before chicken is ready for the oven.
Olive oil - 1.5 tablespoons
Sweet onion, sliced - 1/2 large
Garlic cloves, lightly smashed - 4 (or 10... the more garlic the better in my book)
Rosemary (or thyme or savory... I had savory and thyme) - 2 sprigs
Bay leaves - 4
Chicken stock - 2 cups
Lemon, sliced - 1 large
Salt, pepper, chili flakes to taste
- Heat the oven to 425F.
- Using poultry shears, cut the backbone out of the chicken. Reserve the backbone for future chicken soup. I have it in a freezer ziplock bag and frozen.
- Turn the chicken skin-side-up and press down to flatten it. Season with salt and pepper.
- Now, this is an important point. Get a stovetop and ovenproof casserole or another shallow pan large enough to fit the chicken. Do NOT use a pan with a wooden handle like I did. Even though I wrapped the handle in three layers of foil, it still got totally charred, which made me very sad since I used a family heirloom pan.
- In a pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken skin-side down and brown well, about 10 minutes. I pressed down with tongs on the chicken for the last couple of minutes to make the skin crispier.
- Transfer chicken skin side up to a plate and pour off most of the fat except for 1.5 tablespoons.
- The advantage of this technique is that most of the skin is actually on top and therefore it gets crispy first from the pan frying and then from the oven, so there's almost no soggy chicken skin in the end.
- I am very scared of raw chicken, so I cook it way longer than the recipe called for. It said 30-50 minutes, whereas I cook the chicken for 1-1.15 hour and then broil for another few minutes.
- Lemon sauce-gravy is amazing. Beautiful with quinoa.
- Just remember to use an appropriate pan that can go on the stove and inside a very hot 425F oven!!!