It is no secret that I think roast chicken is just about the best dinner – simple, hands-free, delicious, and (for us) with built in leftovers. And while I don’t believe in messing with a good thing, a few change ups now and then never hurt.
This spatchcocked version is still done in the oven, but could easily translate to the grill … it would just require a bit more attention, which isn’t necessarily bad, if that means hanging outside, with a beverage, perhaps. I used the recipe from Amateur Gourmet (which in turn was from the NYT Magazine recipe, Butterflied Chicken with Cracked Spices) and was crazy about the spice rub from the start!
The rub is a mixture of cumin, coriander and fennel seeds, dry toasted with a few peppercorns, then ground (in a spice mill or mortar and pestle), and mixed with salt and smoked paprika. I need to triple the batch next time and always have it on hand!
As for ‘spatchcock’ – it just refers to removing the backbone and the cooking the chicken flat.
The salsa verde was another component that made this seem more vibrant than my standard swipe with a bit of mustard version. This is not the tomatillo salsa verde of enchiladas and chile verde, but rather the parsley based classic green sauce of Italy. It can be made in a food processor, but becomes a bit homogenous that way … I highly recommend a mortar and pestle if you have it.
This one starts with a bit of garlic, capers and anchovies, ground to a paste, then met with some mustard, wine vinegar and lemon juice, filled out with a generous handful or two of parsley and mint, and finished with a slow drizzle of olive oil. The finished product comes together fully, but still retains each of the individual components. (Note, you can change the mint for an herb of your choice, as everything goes well with parsley).
Seeing that we know that bread salad is such a great match for roast chicken, it seemed obvious that a panzanella was in order.
Panzanella is an Italian bread salad with day-old bread, which is brought to life from the juices of the tomatoes and a perky vinaigrette. I often make croutons, but if you have stale bread on hand, this is absolutely the place for it. From there, just add in an assortment of your favorite summer vegetables. I keep it easy with just cucumbers and bell pepper in with the tomatoes (and some thinly sliced red onion when I remember), and of course with a generous handful of torn basil. As for the vinaigrette, I like a garlicky one, but without balsamic — instead one made puckery with lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Keeps is bright!
I may have thrown in a little bit of fresh mozzarella at the end, but that is strictly optional.
We enjoyed this at the table and caught up on our days, but I think a dinner like this is best enjoyed outside, just before the sun goes down with a nice glass of rose. Hmmm, may need to repeat tonight…
Do you adapt your favorite meals to the seasons?