Skillet-roasted chicken and potatoes

There are roughly a gabillion roast chicken recipes in the world. This is my absolute favorite.

I didn’t really grow up in a roast-beast-and-potatoes household. If we ate chicken, it was usually a rotisserie bird from the grocery store–delicious, but not much of a cooking lesson. So it’s been a real joy, as an adult, to teach myself the basics of chicken cookery. I’ve tried lots of methods for roasting chicken and potatoes in the same pan, and this method is a winner every time. All you need, equipment-wise, is a 12-inch cast-iron skillet.

When it comes to roasting poultry, I’m all about spatchcocking. You could ask a butcher to do this for you, but I find it’s pretty easy to do it myself with a sharp pair of kitchen shears. (I also cut out the wishbone, which is totally optional but makes the breast way easier to carve.) I make a bed of diced potatoes in the skillet, lay the flattened chicken on top, and roast the whole rig in a 450-degree oven until the bird is done. Then I move the chicken to a cutting board to rest, and use that time to broil the potatoes until they’re golden and irresistible.

Obviously, there’s a lot of room here to play with flavors and seasonings. Salt is a must, and black pepper is always nice. I usually add some minced fresh rosemary to the potatoes–a reliably wonderful flavor combination. But you could really use any mix of herbs, spices, oils, and add-ins, depending on your mood and what you’ve got on hand. I’ve included some suggestions at the bottom of the recipe.

roast chicken potatoes skillet

Real talk: this recipe is mostly about the potatoes. Oh, the chicken comes out great–evenly cooked, easy to carve, with the most fabulous crackly-crisp skin. But the potatoes. Oh, those potatoes. They steam and soften in the juices from the chicken, which the broiler then reduces to a sticky glaze. They’re golden on the outside, melting on the inside, and every bite is infused with fatty chicken-ness. Add a leafy green salad and something nice to drink, and you’ve got yourself a lovely meal.

The other reason I treasure this technique is how far it makes the chicken go. People happily fill up on the potatoes, which are gone by the end of dinner. That often leaves me with a portion or two of leftover chicken meat, perfect for noodle bowls or other meals. Then the raw backbone, roasted carcass, and any remaining bones go into a freezer bag for making chicken stock–I can usually get 1 1/2 to 2 quarts out of a single chicken. It’s a surprising amount of food for relatively little work, and I just love that.

Roast chicken, potatoes, and a green salad on a white plate with a fork

Skillet-Roasted Chicken and Potatoes (serves 4)

Adapted loosely from Serious Eats

Note: To bump this up to 6 portions, use a 4 1/2- to 5-lb chicken and 3 lb of potatoes. (I’ve even pushed it to 4 lb of potatoes, which is about the max my skillet can hold.) The larger chicken will take around an hour to roast, and the potatoes may fall apart a bit–but who says that’s a bad thing?

2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary (optional)

1 tbsp olive oil or garlic-infused oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 (3 1/2- to 4-lb) chicken

Preheat the oven to 450º F, and position a rack in the middle. Combine potatoes and rosemary (if using) in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Drizzle the potatoes with oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Lay the chicken on a cutting board, breast side down. Using a pair of sharp kitchen shears, cut down either side of the backbone to remove it from the body. Turn the chicken breast side up and use a paring knife to cut down either side of the wishbone, then use your fingers to pull the wishbone out of the breast. Press down firmly on the breast until you feel a crack and the chicken lies a bit more flat. Tuck the wing tips under the breast so they don’t burn.

Lay the spatchcocked chicken breast side up on top of the potatoes, spreading the legs flat. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 40-50 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink inside and the skin is golden and crisp. (If you have an instant-read thermometer, roast until the thickest part of the breast registers at least 150º F and the joint between the thigh and drumstick registers at least 170º F.)

Transfer the chicken to a cutting or carving board to rest. Turn the broiler on high. Give the potatoes a stir, then slide the skillet back onto the middle oven rack. Broil, stirring every 5 minutes, until the potatoes are deeply browned and tender–in my oven, this takes about 15 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven and let the potatoes cool slightly while you carve the chicken. Serve the chicken on a platter, and place the skillet of potatoes in the center of the table for people to serve themselves.

Variations: I’ve tried different seasonings on the chicken, and just plain salt and pepper is my favorite. The potatoes, though, are a blank canvas for all sorts of flavors. A few ideas:

  • Use just about any herb (or a combination) in place of the rosemary. “Hard” herbs like thyme, sageoregano, or lavender are especially nice.
  • Use 1 tbsp panch phoran spice mix in place of the rosemary, and vegetable oil or ghee in place of the olive oil.
  • Add 1 cup chopped king trumpet mushrooms, 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper, OR 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives along with the potatoes and oil.
  • After broiling, mix in 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest and 1-2 tbsp thinly sliced scallion tops or chives.
  • After broiling, mix in 2 tbsp minced preserved lemon peel and 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint. This is especially nice if you roasted the potatoes with olives.
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