Butterflied Roast Chicken with Herbs de Provence and Smashed Roasted Potatoes

Butterflied Roast Chicken with Herbs de Provence sitting on the Roasted Potatoes that will soon be smashed for a delicious side to the chicken.

Butterflied Roast Chicken with Herbs de Provence sitting on the Roasted Potatoes that will soon be smashed for a delicious side to the chicken.

I love butterflying or "spatchcocking" a chicken for roasting.  It just means that the backbone is removed so that the body of the chicken can be flattened for more even cooking.  I also love one-dish meals, and after some experimentation came up with this dish, a blend of French flavors and hearty Midwestern simplicity.  After removing the backbone from the chicken, I smeared a compound butter flavored with herbs de provence under the skin.  I placed it on top of diced potatoes sprinkled with herbs de provence, surrounded by chicken stock and heavy cream and some butter.  During the roasting process, all of the drippings and flavor from the chicken flavors the potatoes, which are smashed together after roasting and served alongside the chicken.  Mashed potatoes and gravy all in one dish, oh my goodness!  This is delicious and satisfying with some richness, and very simply a fabulous dinner.  I consider it guest worthy, too.  Serve with Uptown Sauteed Spinach for a nice contrast of flavor.
Serves 4-6

Equipment needed:     Heavy-duty Kitchen shears  12-inch cast iron skillet     

Meat Thermometer   or  Instant-read Thermometer

1- 4 to 5 pound whole chicken, preferably organic or cage- and antibiotic-free, giblets & neck removed (Save the neck for chicken stock)

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, soft

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream, plus extra for mashing, if needed

3/4 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.

Remove the backbone from the chicken by cutting down each side of it with poultry shears or heavy-duty kitchen shears.  (I save the backbone for chicken stock; I keep a large freezer bag in the freezer to collect chicken parts until there is enough to make stock-no waste!) Set aside.

Make a compound butter:  Combine 5 Tablespoons of the softened butter with the teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence, and black pepper. 

Starting at the neck end of the chicken, gently run your fingers under the skin of the breast of the chicken, loosening the skin from the meat, being careful not to tear it.  Continue loosening the skin all the way down into the thighs and legs, basically making a pocket between the skin and meat.  Now coat the chicken meat under the skin with the compound butter, a little at a time, until all but 1 Tablespoon of the butter is used and the whole chicken is lightly coated with the butter under the skin. Rub the remaining Tablespoon of compound butter all over the skin of the chicken, which will help it brown. Flip the chicken over and sprinkle the underside with kosher salt and black pepper.

Butter the skillet lightly, then place the potatoes in the pan. Pour the heavy cream and chicken stock into the skillet with the potatoes.  Sprinkle all with the salt and Herbs de Provence.  Dot with the remaining butter.

Place the chicken atop the potatoes, laying it as flat as possible.  Press it down a bit to snug into the potatoes.  Insert a meat thermometer (with a cable that can be read outside the oven while it roasts) into the thigh of the chicken, taking care not to touch the bone.  Set the temperature on the thermometer to 165-degrees.  (The thermometer will beep when the chicken reaches the proper temperature, eliminating the checking toward the end of the roasting time.)  Alternately, check the chicken with an instant read thermometer after 1 hour, then periodically until a temperature of 165-degrees is reached.

Place the skillet in the oven and roast until the chicken reaches 165-degrees.  Remove from the oven, place the chicken on a platter and tent with foil while preparing the potatoes.

Stir through the potatoes to loosen from the pan.  Using an old-fashioned potato masher, mash the potatoes in the skillet thoroughly with the masher, the whip with a whisk to smooth a bit.  (I like them a bit rustic, not totally smooth.)  Add a bit of additional cream or chicken stock if needed if they are too thick.)  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Cut up the chicken and serve with the potatoes on the side.

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