This is not the first time I have had this chicken, but it is the first time I have made it myself. This used to be my husband’s speciality. I received Julia Child’s The Way to Cook Cookbook for Christmas in 1989. I consulted it often and made many great dishes from it. By 1989 Julia Child had perfected her cooking style and meant this book to be a textbook on techniques and the last word on the way food should be prepared.
David latched onto this recipe, I think, because it requires you to spatchcock a chicken. He took great delight in bandying the word about and flattening chickens by removing the backbone and throwing them on the grill. What is it with you men? We women prefer to butterfly our chickens; same process and easier on the ears. Use scissors or a very sharp knife to cut out the backbone of the chicken. Then turn skin side up and press very hard on the breast to break the breast bone. Tuck the wing bones behind the chicken, make slits in the skin near the tips of the breast and insert each leg in the opening created.
CHICKEN IN BONDAGE. It’s not pretty but it cooks faster this way.
I’m not sure what prompted me to return to this succulent chicken dish. Maybe it was because I had a beautiful organic chicken that was calling for special treatment, calling to be slathered in mustard and feathered with breadcrumbs. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I returned to this classic preparation.
The chicken is first broiled and basted. Some of the juices are mixed with the Dijon mustard along with tarragon and shallots.
The chicken is then coated with the mustard mixture and breadcrumbs are pressed into it. I used crumbs from a rosemary olive oil bread. The chicken is returned to the oven, now set at 400 degrees F. and baked until the crumbs are browned and the chicken is cooked through.
Savoring this bird was worth every effort of the preparation.
DEVILED CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND BREADCRUMB COATING
To butterfly a chicken:
First remove the backbone by cutting down close to it on each side with a heavy knife or sturdy shears. Spread the chicken skin side up on your work surface and bang the breast with your fist to break the collarbones and some of the ribs; this flattens the chicken.Fold the wings akimbo by tucking the wing ends behind the shoulders. Then maka a slit in the skin at either side of the breast tip. Push the knee of the drumstick firmly up under the armpit to loosen the joint; then pull it down and insert the tip of the drumstick through the skin slit. The leg will be held in place.
For 4 servings:
A 3 to 4 pound chicken, butterflied as described above
2 tbs melted butter mixed with 1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
A pinch of thyme, tarragon, or mixed herbs, optional
The mustard and herb coating:
Cooking juices from the chicken
3 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs finely minced shallots
1/4 tsp tarragon
2 drops of hot pepper sauce
1 cup crumbs from fresh homemade type white bread
Preheat the broiler. Brush the chicken all over with some of the butter and oil. Arrange it skin side down in the baking dish, and set it so the surface of the flesh is about 5 inches from the hot broiler element. After 5 minutes, brush the flesh, which should just be starting to brown, with the butter and oil. Baste again in 5 minutes – use the juices in the pan when the butter mixture is gone. Broil another 5 minutes, then sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and optional herbs. Turn the chicken skin side up. Broil and baste for 10 minutes more.
Drain the fat and juices out of the broiling pan into a small bowl; skim off and discard all but 1 to 2 tablespoons of fat from the top of the juices. Blend the prepared mustard in another bowl with the minced shallot, herbs, and hot pepper sauce. Beat up the remaining juices; blend half of them into the mustard. Spread the mustard over the top (skin side) of the chicken, then pat on a coating of crumbs. Baste with the remaining juices.
Ahead of time note: May be prepared somewhat ahead to this point; set aside at room temperature.
Final cooking and serving: Roast in the upper third level of a 400 degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes or until crumbs are browned and the chicken is cooked through.