- 1 whole (3- to 4-pound) chicken
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove; discard or reserve for broth, if desired. Open the chicken’s legs and spread the bird down flat, skin side up. Press down firmly on the breastbone to flatten. Pat dry with paper towels; season generously with salt and pepper.
NOTE: I remember the first time I watched Nigella do this to a chicken. She said there was something oddly satisfying about flattening the bird. She was absolutely right!
Heat a large ovenproof skillet, preferably cast-iron, over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Add chicken, skin-side down, to skillet. Let brown without moving, about 3 minutes. Turn chicken, taking care not to break the skin; transfer skillet to oven.
NOTE: From looking at the photo in the book, and seeing slices of lemon, I added sliced lemon to the skillet in the oven about halfway through.
Roast chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 40 to 45 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reaches 165 degrees. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let stand 10 minutes.
NOTE: Now, here is where I ran into my troubles. I took the skillet out of the oven, grabbed my tongs to lift the chicken out, and without thinking, grabbed the handle when the chicken was moving easily. I burned three of my fingers. Oh, yes, really stupid.
Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and remaining tablespoon butter to pan, swirling to combine; set aside.
If you decide to make the sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, red-pepper flakes, garlic, and pinch of salt. Cut chicken into pieces and serve immediately drizzled with olive oil mixture and pan sauce.
NOTE: Now, because I burned my fingers and was now howling in pain and not really interested in making the side sauce. There were a lot of juices in the skillet already. I took the ingredients for the side sauce added them to the skillet and simmer until it reduced. After I attempted to cut up the chicken, I poured the sauce over the chicken.
I can’t wait to try more recipes out of this book. But any young man I know first moving out on his own will get this wonderful book as a gift. It’s perfect for a guy learning to cook and feed himself.