Weekends mean late(r) mornings and a bit more free time, a chance to plan a few meals and try something new. You have probably perfected your chicken-roasting method, so for your Sunday meal I’m offering another — albeit familiar — take on poultry.
You’ll need to start it tonight (or two days before you cook the bird), but it is a simple process, and the results are worth the wait. It’s roast chicken that will make you think barbecue chicken. I made it recently, adapting a Nigella Lawson recipe.
First, select a good, fresh chicken; I bought an organic, free-range bird from Costco, and was happy with it. You’ll need a pair of sharp kitchen shears, because you are going to remove the chicken’s backbone. It’s easy: with the bird breast down, cut along both sides of the bone, from rear to front. Using care, remove the bone and discard. Press down firmly on the chicken to flatten it.
Next, mix the following in a medium bowl: 2 cups buttermilk, 2 tablespoons salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper (plus 5 whole peppercorns), 1.5 tablespoons honey, 3 cloves garlic (crushed), 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (you can use dry, but reduce the amount). Put chicken in a large freezer bag, then add buttermilk mixture. Seal securely and refrigerate for two days.
Go about your weekend, and look forward to Sunday dinner. When you are ready to cook, remove the chicken from the bag and place on a rack, allowing excess liquid to drip off. (It takes about 10 minutes or so.) Preheat oven to 400 F. Rub chicken all over with a bit of olive oil, then place bird in roasting pan, breast up. Roast for 40 minutes or so, until sufficiently browned, then reduce heat to 320F. Continue roasting for another 15-20 minutes.
Remove chicken from oven, and let it rest on a cutting board for 10-15 minutes. If your roasting pan is suitable for stove-top use, add a tablespoon or two of butter to the pan juices, and a tablespoons of chopped shallot. Sauté at medium for a few minutes, then add a tablespoon of sherry, making sure to deglaze the pan. Stir gently, check for seasoning, and lower temperature to keep warm.
Carve the chicken into pieces, put them on a serving platter, and take to table, along with the sauce. Serve and enjoy.