ROASTED CHICKEN WITH A MUSTARD CRUST
I’m sure they wouldn’t like to admit it, but even some of the world’s most accomplished home cooks struggle when attempting to roast the perfect chicken. The fact is it’s far easier to make a roasted chicken look good than it is to make it taste good. I don’t know how many times I’ve sat down to enjoy what I believed to be a perfectly roasted chicken — the quintessential golden brown bird flecked with black pepper and fragrant herbs — only to cut into the thing and find it bone dry or worse, still raw at the bone. Or, and this is perhaps worst of all, a combination of both, so that you end up hacking it up and destroying the only thing it had going for it: its good looks.
But this roast chicken? Well, it’s an entirely different beast, or rather, bird. First, it’s the smell. An intoxicating aroma of garlic will start you salivating. Then you’ll notice the skin. Not only is it golden brown, it’s crisp, like really crisp. And beneath that exterior you’ll find the juiciest and most tender chicken you’ve ever cut into. But it’s the flavor that will leave you coming back for more. The marinade’s combination of garlic, mustard, soy sauce and herbes de provence create a flavor that is at once familiar and completely unexpected. In addition to the marinade, the cooking method is also unique. Unlike typical whole roasted chicken, this recipe calls for you to butterfly the bird. Not only does this help the meat cook more evenly, but it also allows you to sear the bottom of the chicken before throwing it in the oven and cook it in half the time of a usual whole roasted chicken. Sound perfect? It is. But don’t take my word for it.
ROASTED CHICKEN WITH A MUSTARD CRUST
Adapted from Jacques Pepin’s, More Fast Food My Way
The thought of removing the backbone from the chicken in this recipe can be a bit overwhelming if you’ve never done it before, but rest assured that it is actually quite a simple skill that all home chefs should have in their arsenal. Make sure to use a sharp knife or a good pair of heavy duty kitchen shears and don’t be afraid to use a little elbow grease to get through those rib bones. If you are too intimidated by such a task, most butchers will happily do this for you. Whichever route you choose though, make sure you save the backbone for making rich, homemade chicken stock. Cutting deep slashes in and around the thigh and shoulder joints of the bird allows for quick, even cooking due to increased heat penetration. When it comes time to rest the bird after roasting, don’t let all those beautiful caramelized bits go to waste in the skillet. Pour off any excess fat, return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine, being sure to scrape up any browned bits clinging to the pan. Pour in a bit of chicken stock (about a cup), bring to a simmer and swirl in a couple of tablespoons of cold butter just before serving and you will be left with an outstanding gravy, perfect for pouring over fluffy mashed potatoes.
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 teaspoons herbs de Provence
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 chicken (3 1/2 – 4 pounds)
- Whisk all of the ingredients (except chicken) together in a small bowl until emulsified into a fragrant, wet marinade.
- Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut along each side of the backbone to remove it. The best way to do this if you don’t have kitchen shears is to sit the chicken on it’s bottom and slice all the way down each side of the back bone in a straight line. Once you’ve removed the backbone, open the chicken up like a book and place it on the cutting board, cavity side down. Press firmly in the center of the breast to crack the breastbone and encourage a flatter shape. Using a sharp paring knife, cut halfway through both sides of the joints connecting the drumstick to the thigh and cut through the joints of the shoulder under the wing as well.
- Place the chicken skin side down in a large baking dish and evenly spoon on half of the mustard marinade. Flip the chicken over and spread the remaining mustard mixture evenly over the skin side of the chicken. Wrap the dish in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to cooking and preheat the oven to 450° F. Place a skillet large enough to accommodate the chicken over high heat. When hot, place the chicken in the pan skin side up and spoon on any leftover marinade in the baking dish. Cook the chicken on the stovetop for 5 minutes before placing the entire skillet in the oven. Roast for 30-35 minutes, or until the chicken is well-browned with a crispy skin.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and allow the chicken to rest in the pan for at least 5 minutes. Place the chicken on a clean cutting board and allow it to rest for another 5 minutes. Cut the chicken into 8 pieces using a sharp knife or kitchen shears and serve alongside mashed potatoes or a mixed green salad.