Operation Bird

As much as I cook with chicken, it is a bit shameful to say that I have never ever roasted a whole chicken. I usually just buy the cut pieces I need and leave the roasting for other braver women. I knew, though, that a day would come when I would have to deal with a whole chicken, giblets and all. That day came today. On Sunday, my mom gave me a whole chicken (so kind of her), and since I'm headed out to visit the Bestie in San Diego, I needed to face the bird.

I figured if I was going to have to deal with a whole disgusting bird, I might as well find a way to do it that would be something worth my time later. Alton Brown came to the rescue with his Broiled, Butterflied Chicken recipe.

So, I kissed my husband good-bye for the day and spent the next three hours with Alton. I probably watched the Good Eats episode 20 times altogether. I had to be tough when Alton said to use my kitchen shears to cut through the ribs (ugh), pull out the backbone, then dig around until I found the keel bone, which I think I removed, although I'm not sure. This was quite the ordeal. I had no idea what I was doing, so I'm sure it would have been a comical sight to see me wrestling my chicken on the counter, one elbow on the counter while the rest of me tried muster up the little strength I have in my arms to yank out the bone. After I took out whatever I could, my chicken looked a bit mutilated. Luckily it was the backside, so when I flipped it over, it still looked fine even if it was falling apart. Cutting the veggies was easy (yay), and once the chicken was on top of the veggies, it was just a matter of broiling and checking. All in all, I'd have to say Operation Bird was a success.

Besides the whole de-boning and butterflying thing, the recipe itself is basic. And as always, Alton did not disappoint. The bird turned out crispy, juicy, delicious. Be brave! Try it! I'm going to do it again, so it shows that it wasn't a waste of time whatsoever.


1 whole chicken
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons peppercorn
1/2 t salt
lemon zest from one lemon
a bit of parsley
any other veggies you need to use up!
red wine
chicken broth

1. Mash the garlic cloves, peppercorn, salt, lemon zest, and parsley. Add a bit of olive oil to make a paste.
2. Butterfly the chicken. Watch Alton do it first, then go for it.
3. Turn chicken over. Lift the skin of the chicken at the neck and place the paste into the four sections of the chicken. Rub paste throughout.
4. Rub the chicken with olive oil, then sprinkle salt on the backside.
5. In your roasting pan, throw in veggies. These can be in big chunks.
6. Place chicken on top, right side up. Adjust oven rack, so chicken will be about 8 inches from broiler. Turn broiler on High and place chicken in, until brown, 15 - 20 minutes.
7. Flip chicken over and broil other side another 10-15 minutes, or until brown and crispy.
8. Remove chicken and check if it's 165 degrees with a thermometer.
9. Place chicken in a large bowl, so you can work with the veggies to make the jus.
10. Put the roasting pan on the stovetop and turn on high to bring to boil. Slightly tilt the pan and use a large spoon or baster to get out the juice. Discard or save to make a salad dressing.
11. Add enough red wine to just cover the veggies, then about a cup or so of low-sodium chicken broth. Reduce liquid and drain.
12. Cut chicken into quarters and top with jus to serve or cut/shred as desired.

*I added water and broth and continued cooking my veggies after draining the jus until they were tender. I saved the potatoes to do a light mash, then pureed the rest to use for a soup base later on. The flavor was outstanding! And of course you can save your bones and other extras to make a tasty chicken stock. (Kelly called dibs on these, so she gets them.)

I guess I understand the appeal of using a whole chicken. Many meals will come from this thing, not to mention the soup base, stock, mashed potatoes, jus, vinaigrette, etc.


  1. Way to go Can! Believe it or not, I have actually convinced myself that handling dead animals for food is no longer a gross task. A couple more birds and I'm sure you'll be there too. Can't wait for those bones, btw, thanks.

  2. um- ewww! This reminds me of the beef slab incident of 2010! Why does your mom give you meat that you have to wrestle with?

    Anyway, glad it turned out, sounds yummy! I would've probably just cooked the whole bird and cut off what I wanted after it was done :)

  3. i am impressed...although this pregnant nose has a hard time with raw chicken :(. another whole chicken recipe you NEED to check out come warmer weather is beer can chicken - SO GOOD and super easy!! http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=10000000635581&cookbook_id=5281298

  4. Roasted chicken is something I really want to master someday as well! Good Job!


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