Alison Roman’s Dining In features a collection of approachable recipes with a range of classic dishes and modern influences.
I use this paprika-fennel-garlic situation to smear onto pork shoulders and pork chops, marinate chicken thighs or breasts, and toss with fried or grilled chicken wings. Basically, it’s my go-to seasoning, and it makes everything taste like really great Italian sausage.
You may notice that this bird can take upward of 2½ hours to roast if you’re using a 4-pound chicken, but this is not a crispy-skin chicken; this is a melty, tender, sticky, juicy chicken, worth every minute. The low-and-slow treatment ensures that none of the spices or bits of garlic burn, while giving the chicken fat plenty of time to render out slowly and evenly.
If the idea of spatchcocking a chicken puts you in a bad place mentally or emotionally, the information below should help you out, but let it be known that most butchers or meat-counter people will do it for you. Let it also be known that this recipe can be made with a non-spatchcocked chicken; you just might need to give it an extra 30 to 40 minutes in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Using paper towels, pat the chicken dry. Place the chicken, breast-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet (you can also use a very large 10- to 12-inch ovenproof skillet).
- Grind the fennel seed in a spice mill or mortar and pestle (alternatively, chop it with a knife or smash it in a ziplock bag with a heavy skillet) and place it in a bowl with the hot paprika, salt, smoked paprika, pepper, garlic, and olive oil, and smear this all over the bird. Skin side, underside, in every nook and cranny possible. Really get in there with that rub. Rub any of the leftover mixture onto the quartered lemons and scatter them around the chicken.
- Roast the chicken until it is completely tender and cooked through and the lemons are soft and jammy (perfect for squeezing), 2 to 2½ hours. You don’t need to do much to it once it’s in the oven, but around hour 2, sometimes I’ll use a spoon or pastry brush to baste the chicken with all the garlicky business that has dripped off along with the chicken fat.
- The drippings from this particular chicken are truly magnificent. Fiery orange, deeply savory, and just the most delicious thing on the planet. Do not waste these drippings. Instead, drizzle them over the chicken once it’s carved, use them to crisp up smashed potatoes, drag crusty bread through them, or toss with vegetables before a quick roasting to serve alongside the chicken.
- Should you want to do it yourself, I find the best way to spatchcock a bird is to use heavy-duty kitchen shears and cut out the backbone first. Think of it like arts and crafts, except it’s, you know, a chicken. Place the chicken, breast-side down, on a cutting board. Using kitchen shears, start at the butt end of the chicken and snip along one side of the spine, taking care not to cut into the thigh. Repeat on the other side; you should have a chicken backbone in your hands (freeze it in a ziplock bag and save for the next time you’re making chicken stock).
- Once that’s removed, flip the chicken over, breast-side up. Splay the legs out slightly and, using the palms of your hands, firmly press on the breastbone to flatten it. You should hear a slight crack as the breastplate opens up, flattening the chicken and creating a more even surface for cooking.
Reprinted with permission from Dining In, copyright © 2017 by Alison Roman, published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.