Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jacques' Split Roasted Chicken

from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home

5 1/2-to-6-pound roasting chicken
1 Tbs. butter, soft or melted

For the optional spice mix:
1 tsp. mustard seed
1/2 tsp. caraway seed
1 tsp. dried herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. salt

For the deglazing sauce:
1 to 2 tbs. minced shallots
1/3 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbs. or so unsalted butter (optional)

For serving:
a large bunch o fresh watercress

Butterflying the chicken:
Preheat the broiler. Trim off the excess neck skin. Remove the fat from the cavity and cut out the wishbone. With your knife or a cleaver, chop off the tips of the wings and the ends of the drumsticks. Lift a wing, exposing the "armpit," and slice into the shoulder joint to open it slightly, but not through it. Repeat with the other wing. To open the chicken , cut closely down one side of the backbone, starting at the side of the neck, cutting forcefully through the tail end. Cut down the other side to free the backbone (save it for stock with the other trimmings). Spread open the chicken, skin side down, and nick the breastbone with the blae of the knife to split it. Then press firmly on both sides of the breast to flatten the chicken. Lift the flap of skin that covers the leg and slice into the joint between the thigh and drumstick; open it slightly--just enough for the heat to get into the joint--but do not cut through it. Repeat with other leg joint. Fold the wing tips under the shoulder, to hold them in place.
Broiling the butterflied chicken:
Brush both sides of the chicken with the melted butter and arrange it skin side down in the pan. Place under the broiler, with the chicken about 6 inches from the heat, and broil for about 10 minutes, until the interior flesh is lightly browned. Remove the pan and set on a work surface. Set the oven temperature at 400ºF.

Coasting with optional spices and roasting:
Place all the spices and the salt in the grinder and process briefly to a coarse powder. Sprinkle about a quarter of the spice mix over the broiled inside of the chicken, then turn it skin side up, flat in the pan. Sprinkle the rest of the spices over the skin, in a thick, even layer. Place the pan in the center of the oven and roast for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, basting once or twice--quickly, so not to lose oven heat--with the pan juices. Near the end of cooking time, check signs of doneness, the thigh should be tender, the juices from the breast and leg joint should be clear, and the skin should be deeply colored and crisp.

Carving and serving:
Remove the chicken toa platter and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes in a warm oven. Deglaze the pan, using 1 1/3 cups of liquid in all, to make a sauce for serving. To carve, cut the butterflied chicken into 2 halves, straight down the middle of the breast. With parallel cuts, slice 2 thick slabs of breast meat (about 3/4 inch thick) from the inside of each breast half. The remaining outside piece of breast on each side is served with wing attached. Cut through the hip joint to separate 1 whole leg from the breast. Cut off the drumstick and split the thigh into 2 pieces. Repeat with the other leg. You should have 12 nice-sized pieces of chicken. Arrange the pieces on a serving platter and garnish with bunches of watercress. Drizzle the pan sauce over all the pieces, and over the watercress as well. Serve, passing more sauce on the side.

Serves 8 to 10.

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