Roasted Butterflied Chicken

Roasted butterflied chicken just happens to be one of my favorite recipes, and also happens to be one of the least expensive entrees that I can cook up for a family of four. My kids look forward to the crispy skin on this roasted chicken, and it is almost impossible to over-cook the chicken this way, you would have to really work at it. The hardest part is getting the backbone out, but once that’s done, it’s really simple, just putz around the kitchen until the chicken is done, about 50-60 minutes, which gives you plenty of time to set the table and make any veggies and sides you might want with your main course.  If you buy a a bird over 4 lbs, the time might take a bit longer, but not much more.

This recipe also allows for a few additions, such as any fresh herbs you might have laying around, for flavor and aromatics, it sure smells good when this one is cooking along. Some nights, I use some fresh rosemary, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and made a paste out of it that I spread under the skin and on top of the meat, all over the chicken.  Some nights, not all nights, so no complaining that the pictures below don’t show me adding the rub, I’m sure you can figure it out!  Or maybe I’ll have to add a new post.

Food For Thought

roasted butterflied chickenYears ago, there was nothing to think about when making this roasted butterflied chicken recipe.  I simply bought the cheapest fattest bird I could find at the local grocery, slopped some vegetable oil on the outside and then roasted away.

I can’t do that anymore, now I try to spend at least a little time thinking about the chicken I purchase, as well as the oil that goes on it before roasting.  Reading about CAFOs, where many commercially processed chickens are raised, really grossed me out and crossed a moral boundary for me that will make it difficult to ever buy a similar chicken again.

So instead, I have tried organic chickens, free range chickens (which often are really free range at all) and pasture raised chickens.  I’ve settled on organic chickens that aren’t quite pasture raised ($20 for a 4 lb bird!) but freer than a normal free range chicken, so something that has an enhanced outdoors experience, but isn’t quite hanging out on Little Home On The Prairie.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I no longer use canola oil or vegetable oil in my cooking, so I needed something else to baste my bird with, before cooking.  I could use olive oil, but with the high temperatures of this recipe, that doesn’t seem to make much sense.  But butter sounds good!  Or ghee, which is clarified butter, and which can take the high temperature pretty easily.


1 Whole chicken, about 4 lbs
Melted butter or ghee
Salt and pepper

Roasted Butterflied Chicken Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Use your kitchen shears, and making sure you have the chicken breast side down, cut down one side of the backbone, spin the chicken around, and do it again, cutting the backbone clean out.
  3. Place the chicken into an ovenproof pan, breast side up, and then using your hands, lean on the chicken until you feel the breastbone break and the whole bird is flattened out so that the thighs are about the same height as the breast meat.
  4. Brush the outside of the chicken with the melted butter, and then season liberally with salt and pepper.
  5. Place the chicken in oven and cook until it’s done. I usually just pull it out when it looks great, but it would probably be a bit safer if you used a thermometer and made sure that the meat was cooked all the way through. For me, that would be about 165 degrees in the breast.
  6. When you take the pan out (remember, the pan will be hot, don’t grab the handle of the pan!) it’s time to carve the bird. I separate the chicken into four parts, the legs and thighs, and then the 2 breasts. The legs and thighs will likely just fall off, there shouldn’t be much cutting. Using a large chef’s knife, I will then cut the breast down the middle, into two equal pieces.

Four people in my family, four pieces of chicken. Funny how that works.

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