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Quick Butterflied Chicken
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

This one's a personal favorite, a chicken preparation so simple that it hardly justifies being called a recipe. Cutting out the backbone and flattening the bird makes it cook faster and more evenly, and it's an attractive presentation.

1 chicken (2 to 4 lbs)
olive oil or butter
rosemary or other fresh herb of your liking
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450F or preheat charcoal or gas grill. Rinse the chicken and remove liver and other items that may have been stuffed into its cavity. Carefully using a sharp chef's knife or sturdy kitchen shears, cut out the bird's backbone (which may be reserved and used to make stock). Gently flatten the bird and put it in a shallow roasting pan, breast side up. At this point, many flavoring options are available. I like to smash a few cloves of garlic and slide them under the breast skin with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary (or other fresh herbs). You may rub the bird all over with a bit of oil or butter to encourage browning, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Or rub it with soy sauce and sprinkle with Chinese "five spice." Or just about any other flavors you like. Put the bird in the oven in its roasting pan and cook for about 45 minutes. I like to roast it at high heat throughout, but you can also reduce the heat to 350F after a few minutes, then let it go a little longer, perhaps up to an hour at lower heat. If you choose the grill option, I like to sear the bird on both sides over direct heat, then move it to indirect heat, away from direct exposure to the coals for about 45 minutes, depending on the heat of your grill. The old simple test for doneness still works for me: Wiggle a leg and, if it moves easily, the dish is done.

Yield: 2 generous servings

Matching Wine: This simple chicken is friendly to many wines. I like a relatively full-bodied white like Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc, or a mediumweight red like a Pinot Noir or Chianti, but avoid bigger reds, which may overwhelm the bird. When I use rosemary in this dish, I find its woodsy aromatic quality makes it a natural match with Cabernet Sauvignon.

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