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Recipe: Butterflied Whole Chicken

roast chicken
roast chicken

Food Guy Greg Patent describes how to roast a 3-5 pound butterflied whole chicken, basted with herb-garlic-butter paste:

To butterfly a chicken, you'll need sturdy kitchen shears to remove the backbone. After that, it's a simple process to flatten the bird and loosen the skin so that you can flavor the flesh with the tarragon, garlic and mustard paste. A modest-sized chicken will cook in 30 minutes at 500 degrees or in 40 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

2 small garlic cloves, peeled

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon

1 teaspoons olive oil

1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), at room temperature

Chop the garlic and mash it with a fork and 1/2 teaspoon salt to make a paste, or crush the garlic and salt in a mortar with a pestle. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the mustard, tarragon, and olive oil.

Put the chicken breast side down on your work surface. With kitchen shears, cut along one side of the neck or tail down the entire length of the chicken. Repeat on the other side of the backbone and remove it. Save to make chicken broth. Rinse chicken and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.

Turn the chicken breast up and set a couple of clean paper towels on the breast skin. Press down firmly-use your full weight-to open the chicken up and flatten the breast so that the chicken lies flat. Use the flat side of a meat pounder or an empty wine bottle to flatten the breast a bit more.

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 500 degrees or 350 degrees. Line a shallow roasting pan with aluminum foil.

Trim long fingernails before you begin. With your fingers, pull the skin adhering to the flesh on both thighs and the breast to separate the skin from the flesh without tearing (see video). Insert your fingertips under the skin and tease skin away from the meat gently. Pick up a dab of the paste (about one-fourth) with a teaspoon and insert it under one side of the breast about halfway along its length. Repeat on the other side of the breast. Press on the skin to spread the paste on the chicken flesh. Do the same with both thighs. Salt and pepper the chicken all over.

Set the chicken skin side up in the pan and place in the oven. Roast 30 minutes at 500 degrees or 40 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Test for doneness by pricking the thickest part of the thigh. Juices should run clear yellow. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

To serve, use kitchen shears to divide chicken in half and to cut leg-thigh portions off the breast.

• Makes 4 servings.

(Broadcast: "The Food Guys," 11/24/13 and 11/22/20. Listen weekly on the radio at 9:53 a.m. Sundays, or via podcast.)