Dry brined with herbs, this butterflied roasted chicken is super flavorful and juicy! Using the spatchcock technique allows for even cooking in less time than a traditional roast.
Nothing is better than filling your home with smells of a fragrant roasted chicken. I especially like cooking the bird on a hearty bed of root vegetables, similar to my lemon and herb roasted chicken recipe. It’s a full meal all in one! But I wanted to try a few new techniques to make an even more flavorful meal.
As the holidays are approaching I feel like this year’s culinary buzz words for cooking your poultry is dry-brine and spatchcock, aka butterflied. Both of these preparation and cooking techniques are designed to save you time in the kitchen while adding flavor and even cooking.
Allowing your poultry to sit in a salt water brine or dry brine sprinkled on the surface helps slightly break down and loosen the muscle fibers, which in turn causes less contraction of the proteins when cooked, and less moisture is lost. During the process of brining, moisture can be absorbed into the muscle fibers, resulting in a juicier bird.
After reading more about dry brining, I decided to try a salt herb dry brine. The salt added directly to the surface of the chicken at first draws out the moisture through osmosis, the salt is dissolved in the liquid, then gets reabsorbed, creating concentrated salty goodness! Wet brines can leave the chicken flavor a little more diluted than dry brining.
Related: Benefits of brining poultry
I made a dried herb (oregano, thyme, and bay leaves) and salt mixture, then liberally sprinkled it on the surface and inside the cavity of the chicken, and wrapped it in plastic wrap for 24 hours. I then rinsed the surface of the chicken and dried very well before removing the backbone.
To get an even crispier skin, you can allow the brined chicken to air dry in the refrigerator with skin exposed about another 24 hours before roasting. Dry brining is not for the salt averse, the savory flavors come through, and it’s terrific yet strong.
Now for the cooking… Spatchcock or butterflied preparation is mostly cutting the backbone out of the poultry. This technique allows you to open up and flatten out the bird, evenly exposing the entire chicken to the roasting temperatures in the oven. What does this mean? Shorter cooking time and even cooking of the breast and thighs. No more dry meat, yay!
Related: How to Spatchcock a chicken
A little muscle and grit to remove the backbone, and you’re all set! If you become a fan of this method, heavy-duty kitchen shears to more easily remove the backbone may be an excellent investment. Combining these two techniques are a winning team! You can serve this butterflied roasted chicken with your favorite holiday sides like mashed potatoes, green beans, or sauteed brussels sprouts with bacon, yum!
Benefits of butterflying a chicken
- Even Cooking– The chicken breasts and legs lay flat while cooking, the breast, and thigh should finish cooking around the same time. Shoot for 150-165°F for the breasts and 165-170°F for the thighs.
- Crispier Skin– The surface area of the skin is almost equally exposed to the heat when butterflied.
- Faster Cooking– Flattening the chicken out makes the meat thinner and quicker to cook, nearly cutting the cook time in half!
- 5 pound whole chicken
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon black pepper , freshly ground
- 3 dried bay leaves , finely crumbled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine salt, oregano, thyme, ground pepper and crumbled bay leaves.
Dry the outside and inside of the chicken. Evenly sprinkle skin and cavities of chicken with salt mixture, about 2 tablespoons inside, and the rest rubbed onto the outside of the bird.
Wrap chicken in plastic wrap and place chicken in a large plastic bag. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
Set wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, set aside.
Remove plastic from chicken. Rinse chicken inside and out; pat dry with paper towels.
Using sharp kitchen shears, remove spine from chicken, cutting along the spine from the neck down to the tail. Discard the backbone.
Flatten chicken by placing skin side up on cutting board and applying firm pressure to the breast bone.
Transfer chicken to the wire rack and position chicken so that breasts are aligned with the center of baking sheet and legs are close to the edge. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.
Set oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.
Rub chicken on all surfaces with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Lightly season chicken with freshly ground black pepper.
Roast until thickest part of breast close to bone registers at least 160-165°F on an instant-read thermometer and joint between thighs and body registers at least 165-170°F, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let meat rest for at least 10 minutes before carving and serving.
- For a crispier skin, you can refrigerate the butterflied chicken on a sheet pan on top of a wire rack uncovered, for 24 hours.
- If you like a saltier chicken, butterfly the chicken first then season with salt just on the surface of the skin (breast, thighs, and wings), but not on the cavity. Refrigerate uncovered on a sheet pan on top of a wire rack for 24 hours, then roast (do not rinse). You want to season generously, but not have a thick salt crust.
MAKE IT WHOLE30: Use extra-virgin olive oil, and use sea salt for kosher salt.
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