Chicken

Roast Chicken Gets an Upgrade With 5 Clever Tricks

Where has this sheet-pan chicken dinner been all our lives?

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February 19, 2019

We're turning classic roast chicken up a notch with help from our partner BOU and this super-simple sheet-pan supper. In this recipe, we'll grab a few BOU vegetable bouillon cubes from the pantry and use them in three different ways to infuse flavor.

Roasting a whole chicken wasn't something we did often in my house growing up (we were more of a boxed pasta kind of family). But now that I have a kitchen of my own, I regularly turn to roast chicken when I'm craving something simple and delicious, want a dinner that yields enough leftovers for lunch the next day, or in need of an easy dinner party dish.

After landing on a go-to method, Barbara Kafka's Simplest Roast Chicken, I've never felt any need to deviate. But that all changed after I tried chef and Chopped champion Palak Patel's sheet-pan chicken with glazed squash.

Photo by Rocky Luten

The aroma of butter-crisped chicken skin is what first lured me in, and a whiff of maple-y squash drew me closer. But it was my first bite of the finished product that sealed the deal: I'd definitely be alternating my go-to method with Patel's.

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Top Comment:
“after spatchcocking, adding butter under the skin, oiling and salting the outside, then lay on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate overnight. It gives the skin further time to dry out for crisping once in the oven. I also roast right on the rack.”
— Gammy
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Although the recipe is pretty straightforward, it has a few clever techniques and ingredients that set it apart from the rest, starting with the method for prepping the chicken itself.

1. THE BIRD IS SPATCHCOCKED.

Patel opts for the spatchcocking method, which means the backbone is removed and the breastbone is flattened. The result is a faster-cooking, more evenly roasted chicken that also doubles down on extra-crispy skin (because the bird lies totally horizontal, more skin is exposed directly to the heat). If you've never spatchcocked a chicken before, fear not; it's easier than you think. (Especially if you take a cue from Patel and use sharp kitchen shears to cut out the back bone.) But here's a handy, step-by-step guide just in case.

2. THAT BACK BONE DOESN'T GO TO WASTE.

After you take care of removing the back bone, whatever you do, don't toss it. "It has a lot of flavor that you don't want to waste," Patel says in the video above. Instead of reserving it for another use, Patel uses it in a pan sauce for drizzling over the finished dish. But the pan sauce doesn't get its silky savoriness from the backbone alone. Patel's other flavor hack: Stir in a bouillon cube to add notes of herbs and spices (and save yourself from buying a bunch of extra ingredients).

3. COMPOUND BUTTER GOES UNDER THE CHICKEN SKIN.

A lot of recipes instruct you to rub butter on top of the chicken's skin, but this one instructs you to really get in there and rub it under the chicken's skin (which happens to be a bit easier to do when you've spatchcocked the bird). And this isn't just any butter: It's an herbed compound butter infused with garlic, lemon, salt, pepper, and a bouillon cube. This helps seal in all those aromatic flavors directly into the meat.

4. THIS EVERYDAY INGREDIENT HELPS THE SKIN CRISP UP.

After spreading butter underneath the skin, the recipe gives the top of the chicken some love too. A sprinkle of oil is followed by a mixture of salt, pepper, and an unexpected guest star: baking powder. This might sound weird, but you won't taste it in the finished result and it actually helps the proteins in the skin break down more easily. (Read: hello super-duper crispy skin.)

5. A BED OF SQUASH SOAKS UP ALL THE RENDERED SCHMALTZ.

Like any good sheet-pan dinner, this one cooks up your side in the same pan. For extra-delicious results, Patel has you slice delicata squash (any squash works, she says), toss it in a glaze, and use it as a roasting rack. As the chicken cooks, all those delicious fatty juices (and, um, herb butter) drip down over the squash, meaning more flavor and crispier squash edges.

After taking the recipe for a spin a few times, I've found that I especially love making this roast chicken on lazy winter nights (which this time of year is pretty much any weeknight) when I'm craving something hearty and comforting, but don't feel like doing too much in the kitchen—or too much cleaning up. And if I have a few friends willing to brave the chilly temperatures and come over for dinner, I might even prep the whole sheet pan (chicken, squash, and all) the day before; all you need to is cover the whole sheet pan, store in the fridge, and let it come to room temperature before popping it in the oven to roast.

What's your favorite sheet-pan chicken recipe? Tell us in the comments below!

In partnership with BOU we're highlighting easy ways to pack more flavor into your weeknights. In this sheet-pan chicken dinner, BOU vegetable bouillon cubes are used in three different ways: To flavor a quick maple glaze for roasted squash, to round out the herbs in the compound butter, and to boost a pan sauce to drizzle on the whole meal. But BOU bouillon cubes make a great pantry staple and can be used in savory dishes of all stripes, from soups to grain bowls to stir-fries.

5 Comments

Gammy February 19, 2019
Two additional tricks I have recently learned: 1.) Add a bit of smoked salt to the salt-pepper-baking powder mixture, not much but it gives a really nice hint of smokiness. 2.) after spatchcocking, adding butter under the skin, oiling and salting the outside, then lay on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate overnight. It gives the skin further time to dry out for crisping once in the oven. I also roast right on the rack.
 
Author Comment
Erin A. February 20, 2019
These sound delicious, Gammy! Thank you for sharing them :)
 
Dee February 19, 2019
Is it baking soda or baking powder? Text in story says soda but recipe says powder. Thanks for clarifying.
 
Gammy February 19, 2019
Baking POWDER is correct, not baking soda.
 
Author Comment
Erin A. February 19, 2019
Apologies for the error! We've updated to baking powder.