If you haven’t ever butterflied a chicken, you need to learn! It will elevate roast chicken from a weekend meal (with lots of time to cook) to a weeknight meal. By cutting out the backbone and flattening the chicken, it cooks much faster. Jacques Pepin adds cutting into the joints of the legs and the shoulders to reduce cooking time even further. He says 30 minutes but I had a free range bird that took an extra few minutes.
Save the neck and backbone to make chicken stock of course!
I wish I’d had a photographer with me to take pictures but as it’s just me, you’ll have to do with these pictures on EatingWell. Or here’s the video of Jacques himself preparing the chicken. Essentially cut out the backbone and then flatten the chicken so it’s about the same thickness all over. Just press down really good with your hands or pound it with a mallet if you’d rather. Then Jacques Pepin has you cut halfway through the joints connecting the thigh and drumstick and halfway through the joints of the shoulder (under the wings).
Lots of recipes have you weigh the chicken down while cooking, with bricks or another heavy pan. And I’ve done that. But you don’t have to. You can grill this, broil it or roast it. Whichever method you choose, it will take about half the time it would to cook a whole (intact) chicken. The other night I followed Jacques Pepin’s recipe in Jacques Pepin More Fast Food My Way (affiliate link).
Roast Chicken in 40 Minutes
For the Mustard Crust
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce like Tabasco
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 whole chicken innards removed
- Mix all the mustard crust ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 450 F.
- Using kitchen shears or a really sharp knife, cut the backbone off the chicken. Press on your hands to spread it out and flatten it.
- Cut halfway into the joints connecting the legs and thighs. Then cut halfway into the joints of the shoulder under the wing.
- With the chicken skin side down, rub half the mustard crust on it.
- Put an ovenproof skillet onto a medium high burner and add the flattened chicken, mustard side down.
- Spread the rest of the mustard onto the skin side.
- Cook about 5 minutes, then put the skillet (and chicken) into the oven and cook until done, 30-40 minutes.
- Let it rest a few minutes on a cutting board before cutting into pieces and serving.