April 28, 2011

Flat Roasted Chicken

flat roasted chicken

Here’s a lesson in food blogging for you: If you want to share a scrumptious recipe with people, make sure to protect your photos from being deleted. You could potentially write your way out of this quandary. You could describe how epic the buttery lemon sauce was that accompanied the chicken. You could tell your readers how easy it was to flatten a chicken and how much faster it cooks when it’s prepared that way. You might even want to tell them how you used the leftover chicken in quesadillas one day, threw it in a burrito bowl for lunch another day and finally topped the last bit on a Greek pizza for dinner. But really, who cares about all of that when there isn’t a picture like the one you see above?

comfort food

I made this chicken TWICE in one week. The first time was intended for you…the second time was to make up for the accidental photo deletion. That’s right. I lost over 40 photos. With a flat roasted chicken recipe this amazing, making it twice in one week was no big deal. In fact, I didn’t mind at all.

And we’re off!

You start by taking the backbone out of the chicken. Use kitchen shears & cut along both sides of the backbone.

goodbye backbone

It’s gone! How easy! Does this gross you out? Sorry.

in half

Flip the bird (ha!) over. Flatten. Pat dry & cover with salt & pepper.

salt & pepper

Heat butter & olive oil in the skillet you’ll be cooking the chicken in.

butter & olive oil

Place the bird skin side down and brown for about 3 minutes.


Flip the bird (ha! this never gets old) over and put it in your oven to roast uncovered.

into the oven!

Now it’s time to make your lemon garlic sauce. Mash that garlic.


Add it to a bowl with lemon, red pepper flakes & olive oil.

making sauce 1

Look what just came out of the oven!! Take the chicken out of the pan & cover with foil. Let rest for 10 mins.

fresh from the oven

Add butter & lemon juice to the pan. This sauce is SOOO GOOD.

a little lemon & butter....

Cut the chicken into pieces and place back in that sauce. Add a few lemons to make it pretty!

flat roasted chicken heaven

You will want to put both the pan drippings & the lemon oil sauce ON top of the chicken.


I served our chicken with kale & baked potatoes. At one point I dipped the potato skin in the pan sauce. I wish I could bathe in that stuff. CAN YOU IMAGINE?!

Flat Roasted Chicken

Serves 4- 6

(recipe from Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys)

  • 1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 lbs backbone removed
  • coarse salt & 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 & peeled

Preheat oven to 400 F. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove. Open the chicken’s legs and spread the bird down flat, skin side up. Press down firmly on the breastbone to flatten it. Pat dry with paper towel and generously salt & pepper both sides.

Heat a large oven proof skillet on high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of both butter and olive oil to the pan. Add the chicken, skin side down and allow to brown for 3-4 minutes. Turn the chicken over and transfer the skillet to the oven.

The chicken will be done after 40-45 minutes. A thermometer placed in the thickest part of should read 165 F and the chicken should be nice and golden brown. Remove the chicken and let rest for 10 minutes covered in aluminum foil. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and the remaining butter to the pan drippings and swirl around.

Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, the red pepper flakes, garlic and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Cut the chicken into pieces, drizzle with the lemon sauce and the pan drippings. Serve immediately!

  • whitneybee

    I LOVE this recipe. When I made it I put the raw garlic in with the pan drippings to heat it up just a little bit. SO GOOD. I love roasted chicken on its own but the sauces take this to a whole new level!

  • kickpleat

    yeah, that looks pretty frickin’ amazing. you are my hero.

  • tiffany | live happy

    Oh my god. I must make that next week…or NOW!

    Thank you for sacrificing so that we could have pictures. And for being so willing to flip the bird (double ha!) for us. You’ve got nothing but love for your readers!

  • rita

    i’ve made 3 of your recipes for john and i since i got back from the joy retreat. do you remember how i told you john ate like a 5 year old. well….he actually really liked ALL 3 (!) of your recipes.

    black bean and sweet potato soup
    parsley and romano cheese fries

    that is history in the making!!!! you have noooo idea. definitely making this chicken for him. i think he will love it too!

    thank you 🙂

    • Tracy

      RITA!!!! That’s FANTASTIC!!! That makes me soooo happy! You are paving the way for some new/good things in your rotation. It feels awesome having more stuff to be able to cook, huh? I wonder what he’ll eat next?!

  • Jenny (VintageSugarcube)

    That first pic of the chicken and tater look ahhhhhhmazingness on a plate.

  • Chris

    I am excited to try this recipe, just one quick question. Did you cover the chicken when you put it in the oven? Also I love your photos very well taken!

  • Nicole

    Can we use chicken that is cut up instead of a whole chicken?

  • Foodiebia

    I always feel guilty for not making more roasted chicken like a good food blogger. This recipe might help me break the habit though, since I have high hopes it will be easier to tell when the chicken is fully cooked when it’s flat.

  • peachey

    thank you, thank you. and, i need to go ahead and get that cookbook already. did you take the breast bone out too? i made chicken under a brick once and it called for that. why i like this better though: it’s so GOLDEN. love it. going to try it very, very soon. like this weekend.

    • Tracy

      The recipe just said to take the backbone out! I just followed that! It still turned out pretty golden 🙂

      • peachey

        sorry. lemme rephrase.
        1. just asking about the breast bone out of curiosity. thanks for letting me know!
        2. i like YOUR recipe better because YOUR chicken turned out so golden.
        the pretty color and perfect roastedness have nothing to do with the bones. two separate thoughts floating around at once. sorry for the confusion!

  • Vanessa

    Mmh that chicken looks amazing. I love the golden, crispy skin.

  • ktlovespie

    Mmmm, this looks so amazing. Definitely making this over the weekend.

  • Katrina

    haha I love the title for these! Awesome.

  • K.

    Now that I moved out of my parent’s place, I’ve been meaning to find “my” roasted chicken recipe (hopefully as good as my mom’s…).I think you might have just helped me achieve that !

  • regan

    This recipe would be better if it were vegetarian.

    I crack myself up.

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  • Jenn @ Frugal Upstate

    found you via MomAdvice’s Notebook entry for the week.

    I have to say-this looks so fabulous! I can’t wait to try it, I may have to make it this weekend!

    I bet you could also use the same flattening technique in order to grill a whole chicken. . . hmmm.

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  • Kate

    Thanks so much for sharing! I made this last night and it was amazing – definitely one to keep and make again and again.

    • Tracy

      Awesome!! The best part is that you can change the flavor profile for future preparations! Add rosemary! Add sage! Change it up! Just follow the basic recipe!

  • Sara

    Hmm, I really want to make this but I’m not sure I have an oven-proof skillet that’s big enough for a whole chicken 🙁 I might be able to squeeze it into the bottom of my dutch oven though… Hmmm.

    Do you have any other suggestions for baking methods other than in the skillet? Could I transfer from a skillet to another dish between browning and baking?

    • Sara

      So I made this last night, and thought I’d share some feedback – I ended up browning it in a slightly small skillet and then transferred it to a 9×13 baking dish. It cooked fine, although the process of flipping and transferring the whole chicken was messy and I practically ripped all the skin off the bird! I guess I just didn’t have access to the right utencils… whatever they might be! 😛

      Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  • Laura

    I love your skillet! Who makes it?

    PS. Can’t wait to try this recipe out. It looks AMAZING!!!

  • Claire

    This is a great trick to cook a whole chicken! And it’s even idiot-proof (I say this as the idiot who cut out the sternum, instead of the backbone. Good thing I decided to go into basic science research, instead of medicine…)

  • Megan Wallace

    I wanted to let you know that I love this recipe so much! Making it tonight, and wanted to give some feedback as well!

    I actually omitted the lemon oil sauce, and it is still 100% amazing! Those pan drippings…. I DREAM about those pan drippings. I had an extra little bowl next to my plate JUST to dip the chicken and sides in. It was gluttonous and wonderful

  • Zinnia

    I did this yesterday and it was AMAZING good, what kind of skillet is the one in your photographs?

    Thanks a bunch for sharing this wonderful fun recipes!

  • kate petermann

    I love this recipe on the grill as well! I covered two bricks with foil and warmed them on the grill. Then put the chicken on skin side down over indirect heat, only had to flip one time during the cooking process. Real important to let it rest for about 10 minutes. I am trying your recipe as we speak for inside. It sounds delightful with the sauce! I can’t wait to eat! Thank you.

  • Natalia

    Just wondering if the lemon can be substituted for an Orange???????????????

    • Tracy

      I’m sure it could, but the acid won’t be as strong. Lemme know how it goes.

  • Natalia

    Making it today will let you know the final result.

  • Natalia

    Ok so I used orange juice instead of lemon…..and………

    Messed up the amount orange juice I put in.
    Couple of extra ingriedients later,it actually tastes pretty good, mum kept lickin the spoon, so guess it was alright .
    Unfortunately, do not remember what I put in,and in what quantity……………..

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  • Krystina

    Tracy! Ever since I picked up Lucinda’s cookbook, this has been my go-to for a homey, hearty meal. (And, even thought it’s simple, it’s always been impressive for my guests!) The sauce is ballin’ and should never be skipped.

    Want to know what else I’ve taken to jazzing up this recipe? Well, my hubs and I volunteer at a Youth Camp every weekend in the winter so we are always famished by the time we get home Sunday evenings. On Friday, right before we leave, I throw the spatchcocked chicken in a ziplock full of good buttermilk, a pinch of salt, and a ton of cracked black pepper (inspired by Deb’s buttermilk chicken over at Smitten Kitchen.) Let it hang out all weekend, then Sunday … take the bad boy out, dry it up with paper towels, and follow Lucinda’s recipe as usual! The meat gets ridiculously good – and so rich. You must must try it!

    • Tracy

      WOWWEEEEE. That sounds awesome! Perfect for when I have leftover buttermilk. Thanks for the tip and I’m so glad you love that cookbook too. I can’t wait for her next one to come out!

  • jenny

    I am making this tonight.

    Love you, Tracy Shutterbean!

  • erinlucy

    whole chicken scares me. but i’m fighting the fear and making this tonight for valentines day dinner! wish me luck

    • jenny

      I’m back and I have to say:

      AMAZING. seriously, my kids went NUTS for it. dotty said she wanted 27 servings. Specifically 27. Speck was hovering during clean up and even when we let him out later to do his business, he stood on the other side of the kitchen door staring in, like… wait. I smell that chicken. I’m not going anywhere, people.

      cutting the bone out is the worst part – the rest is really so easy! and OMG – crispy, brown, delicious.

      Happy Valentines Day, people!

  • Wendy

    I really, really would like to know what oven proof skillet you use. I’m in need of some new enameled cookware and would like to know the size and manufacturer. This dish looks delish and can’t wait to try it! Oh yeah, I love your Friday postings!

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  • Katelyn

    I’m starting to feel like I’m stalking your blog, but everything you make is so GOOD! I made this tonight and it was great! Even easier than a roast chicken and that sauce!

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  • Jennifer Monroy

    I have made this dish several times, and I love it. My family loves it. I could bathe in the lemon garlic sauce. So good!

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