I make an Emergency Roast Chicken at least once a week – sometimes twice, if not thrice. As a matter of fact, today is the second day in a row that I’m making it! What can I say? I’m a bit obsessed and for good reason. The chicken ALWAYS comes out insanely juicy on the inside, super crispy on the outside, and bursting with flavours throughout!
I’ve made this several times on my Instagram stories (you can see the saved stories on my YouTube Channel by clicking here). Even though I take people through the steps on the video, I still get asked on a daily basis to write up a blog post with the recipe. So, without further ado, here it is. I have even taken some step-by-step pictures of the spatchcocking process for anyone that is interested. I know, I’m nice like that 😉
Why I Love Emergency Roast Chicken
Part of the reason I make this so often is the sheer simplicity of the recipe. All you need is a high-quality chicken, fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, a roasting tray and a hot oven. Heck, you could probably even get away without the rosemary, but it does add a lot of flavour. While on the topic, you could substitute rosemary for thyme or sage, if the mood strikes you. But from the herbs I’ve tested (and I’ve tested many), rosemary has been my personal favourite. I encourage you to experiment and see which one you enjoy the most!
Use the Best Bird You Can Find
I really only have one rule when making Emergency Roast Chicken, and that is to use a high-quality, organic, free-range chicken that is fairly small in size (approx. 3-3.5lbs). There are 2 reasons for this:
- As mentioned, this recipe really only has 2 ingredients: chicken and rosemary. In other words, the chicken will have no flavours to hide behind and if it’s a poor-quality bird you’re going to taste it right away.
- The technique behind this chicken is two-fold. First we spatchcock (i.e. split the bird at the backbone) and then we roast it hard and fast (i.e. high heat for a short period time). If you try to roast a bird that is 5 or 6 lbs, or a capon that can be upwards of 8lbs, you run the risk of burning the outside before the inside has had a chance to cook. Also, I happen to think that smaller chickens taste better.
Other considerations when making Emergency Roast Chicken
- Parchment paper over tin foil:
- I am always asked why I prefer parchment paper to tin foil and the reasons are quite simple. Tin foil has a tendency to tear and end up in your food, and rendered fat sometimes gets scorched on the surface.
- Roasting tray vs. pan:
- You can get away with using a roasting tray (as pictured) to cook your Emergency Roast Chicken. However, if you have an oven-safe pan or skillet (ex. cast-iron) that will fit the spatchcocked chicken then feel free to use that and line it with parchment paper.
- Meat Thermometer:
- Perhaps the most important tool for a perfectly roasted chicken. To accurately gauge whether or not your chicken is ready you will either need to take it’s temperature or slice into it to see if the juices run clear. The latter will render valuable juices in the bird that you worked so hard to develop. Trust me, buy a meat thermometer and you’ll never look back. I have been using this Javelin model by Lavatools and recommend it. It’s affordable and accurate.
- Kitchen Shears vs. Knife:
- You’ll notice that I spatchcock the chicken using a sharp knife. However, please feel free to use a pair of sharp kitchen sheers if it makes you feel more comfortable.
- Half-Spatchcock vs. Full-Spatchcock
- Personally, I am a fan of the half-spatchcock because:
- The meat along the spine of the bird is absolutely delicious and I pick at it before serving the roasted chicken to family and friends
- Keeping the spine attached on one side will provide more fat to render, which you will then use to baste the bird before broiling
- I reserve the carcass and bones for homemade stock and bone broth and roasted bones are far more flavourful than raw, so it only makes sense to roast the spine along with the rest of the bird
Emergency Roast Chicken: Step-by-Step
Step 1: Rinse and pat chicken dry.
Step 2: lay bird flat, breast-side down on a cutting board.
Step 3: Using a sharp knife or kitchen sheers, slice along one side of the back bone.
Step 4: Continue until you have sliced all the way through and can pry the bird open.
Note: the bones are very sharp along the spine and can cut you if you are not careful.
Step 5: Pry the bird open.
Step 6: Use a sharp knife and make an incision in the breast plate – this will help to flatten the bird.
Step 7: Make an incision along the top of each breast so that you can locate and remove the wish bone with your fingers.
Step 8 (optional): Use your fingers to carefully dig the wish bone out. It’s not absolutely necessary to do this, but it does make it easier to carve the bird once it’s done cooking.
Note: the wishbone is often cracked and is very sharp. Be careful not to stab your fingers.
Step 9: Lay the bird cut-side down and firmly press the breasts down to flatten.
Step 10 (a): Tuck the wing tips behind the wings to prevent burning and to expose more skin from the breast.
Step 1o (b): do the same thing on the other side.
Step 11: Season both sides with kosher salt, freshly-cracked black pepper and chopped, fresh rosemary.
Step 12: Lay chicken breast-side-up in a parchment-paper-lined roasting tray. Roast for 40-45min at 425F or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast reads 165F. Baste chicken with rendered juices, switch oven to broil and cook an additional 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest 5-10 min, carve and serve.
Emergency Roast Chicken - Paleo, Whole30
- 1 3-3.5 lbs organic free-range chicken
- 1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh rosemary
- kosher salt
- freshly-cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Rinse and pat chicken dry. Half-spatchcock the bird, leaving one side of the backbone intact. Season both sides with salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary. Lay chicken breast-side-up in a parchment-paper-lined roasting tray.
- Roast for 40-45min or until thickest part of the breast registers 165F on an instant read meat thermometer.
- Baste bird with rendered juices. Switch oven to max broil and cook an additional 5-6 minutes or until skin is crispy.
- Transfer Emergency Roast Chicken to carving board, let rest 5-10min before carving. Serve with Uncle Ronny's Salsa Verde (see recipe here).