Breaded Whole Chicken is Lazy Fried Chicken
When picnic season hits, my potato salad gets lonely without fried chicken.
The problem: I don’t like making fried chicken. I’m not fond of breading all those individual pieces. Worse, standing over a deep fryer in summer is truly hell-ish. (Sympathy to my brother and his wife who are standing near a deep fryer right this minute, and nearly all summer minutes. Why? Find out about their resort-town restaurant life here.)
While skyping with my mom recently she told me about how she’s been cooking her chicken. She breads the whole thing. Brilliant! No individual pieces to mess with. And, even better, it’s done in the oven so I can stay cool somewhere else (like in the pool) while the chicken heats up.
This oven-roasted breaded chicken is spatchcocked. What does spatchcocked mean, you ask?
Spatchcocking is a simple method of taking a whole chicken and cutting out the backbone so that the bird can be positioned in a single layer. This makes it flatter and of an even height so that it cooks more quickly and more evenly. Because the chicken is cooked for less time, the white meat is as juicy and tender as dark meat. Learn how to spatchcock a chicken here. Trust me: It really is quick and easy and so so worth trying. (Note: I don’t bother with the skewering step shown in the video.)
Breaded Spatchcocked Chicken
My mom has been taking this chicken to potlucks lately. She takes the chicken from the oven and, leaving it on the rack, wraps foil over it, securing it tightly all around the edges. Then she takes it straight to the party and unwraps it there. It stays hot on the way and those bronzed crumbs over the whole bird make for a gorgeous presentation. Oh, she just reminded me that she often puts several bunches of grapes, brushed lightly with olive oil, all around the chicken for the entire cooking time. The roasted grapes make for an even prettier presentation and you get a glorious side dish as well.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper, divided
- a 4-6 lb chicken
- Preheat oven to 400º. Get a broiling pan ready (alternatively, you can use an oven-safe cookie-cooling rack placed on a large rimmed cookie sheet).
- Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the panko rumbs, garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon of the kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper. Stir to combine. Allow the crumbs to get a slight tan, stirring occasionally for around 10 minutes. Some crumbs will be darker than others. The darkest should be the color of cinnamon, the lightest as pale as straw. Scrape the crumbs into a bowl so that they stop cooking.
- Meanwhile, use sharp kitchen shears to cut the backbone out of the chicken (this is called spatchcocking. See how easy it is to do here. Be sure to save the backbone along with the neck and organs for stock). Turn the chicken breast side up and push down on the breasts to flatten the bird so that it will cook more evenly (sometimes it won’t flatten well and so I fold it in half such that the skin of one breast touches the skin of the other. Then I lay it down again and it stays nice and flat for me).
- Turn the chicken breast-side down and sprinkle the skinless top with ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper. Flip it over. Scoop the breadcrumbs onto the skin side of the bird, one spoonful at a time. Smoosh them down with your fingers after each addition so that they spread out covering the whole skin and so that their butteriness makes them stick to the bird and to each other. You may not need all the crumbs (there are extra because I knew you would taste some after they finished toasting, and also to account for the ones that will inevitably fall off as you’re spooning them on).
- Slide both hands under the bird and carefully lift it onto your broiling pan. Don’t worry if some crumbs fall off: You can add a few more if you have some left. If not, no worries.
- Put the chicken in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350º and cook until a thermometer in the breast reads 155º, in the thigh reads 165º, 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken. Note: If the crumbs start to get too brown towards the end of the cooking time, tent the bird with foil.
- Carve into pieces. Watch a very helpful video from Food & Drink showing how to carve the chicken into pieces and also how to test for doneness. Note that I like to additionally carve each breast into to pieces by cutting it in half width-wise (yielding two plump square-ish pieces, not two long rectangular pieces, from each breast).