Spatchcock is a method in which the backbone is removed, and then the bird is butterflied and flattened. Preparing chicken this way allows for more surface area and no chicken cavity leading to more even cooking, less cooking time, and crispier skin. In this recipe, the chicken roasts over a bed of shallots and garlic cloves, creating a symbiotic relationship between chicken and alliums. As the chicken roasts, the smoky-flavored drippings mix with the garlic and shallots and in turn, the garlic and shallots help flavor the chicken. I love serving this roast chicken with a baguette or some other variety of crusty rustic bread for dipping into the drippings and topping with the caramelized garlic cloves and roasted shallot. A nice salad, maybe with arugula or another peppery green, would round out the meal. Serves 4 to 6.
3 shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise, quartered lengthwise if large
1cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and stems
1/4cup unsalted butter (1/2 of a stick), softened
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1 3 1/2- to 4-pound organic pastured whole chicken
Toasted rustic bread or baguette, for dipping
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Separate the head of garlic but leave the cloves in the skins. Remove the skins from 4 cloves of garlic, finely chop them and place them in the bottom of a small bowl. Place the rest of the cloves of garlic with the skins still on in the center of a standard sheet pan. Add the shallots to the sheet pan and set aside.
Add the parsley, butter, smoked paprika, chipotle pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the garlic in the bowl. Use a spoon or your hands to mash the mixture into a paste. Set aside.
Lay the chicken on a cutting board breast-side down, with the legs closest to you. Make sure to remove any innards in the package and use paper towels to pat the chicken dry. Using a good quality set of kitchen shears to cut down one side of the backbone. Then proceed with the other side of the backbone. Discard the backbone or save for another use. Open the chicken to reveal the ribs and sternum. Use the kitchen shears to cut about 1 inch vertically up both sides of the sternum. Flip the chicken over and use your hands and body weight to flatten the breasts and rib cage. Tuck the wings under.
Massage the butter mixture all over the chicken including under the skin. Season the chicken skin all over with more salt and pepper. Let rest for 20 minutes.
Roast the chicken until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F°, 40 to 45 minutes. Let the chicken rest about 10 minutes before carving. Serve the chicken with peeled garlic cloves, shallots, and bread.
Vanessa Seder has worked in the food industry for close to 20 years as a recipe developer, food stylist, chef instructor, and author. Her cookbooks include: Eat Cool, (which received positive reviews from the New York Times and elsewhere) and the award-winning Secret Sauces. A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, Vanessa has developed recipes for Real Simple, All You, Health, Cooking Light, Hannaford’s Fresh, Ladies Home Journal—where she previously served as an associate food editor, and Maine The Way, among others. She lives with her family in Portland, Maine. She can be found online at vanessaseder.com and Instagram @vseder.