How to Make a Roast Chicken, Butterflied


There is something I must tell you. It has to do with recipes. I don’t share a recipe with you unless I truly believe in its intrinsic value. What do I mean by this? Take this roast chicken, for example.

I like that it produces several servings with very little stove time. What is ‘stove time’? To me, it is the amount of time one must spend standing at the stove, stirring, frying and generally fussing with food in a pan. This exercise is particularly trying, when you must then go on to stage two of cooking the same dish, for an extended period of time. I sought out recipes similar to this one, when I started law school and a few years later, when I had young children and a career. On occasion, I had to make meals that weren’t needy of me or my time. I like that I just stick this chicken in the oven and go do my own thing.

Money Saved

This dish is also excellent if you need to feed a lot of mouths. If you don’t have a budget to buy separated pieces of chicken, this recipe might be for you. It has so many advantages. First, one whole chicken should cost less by weight, than separated chicken pieces. Secondly, you get to use your oven, which has its own special qualities, as a prime kitchen appliance. I pointed out in a related post, the many advantages of the oven,

More Time for You

Thirdly, if you butterfly the whole chicken, you save even more valuable time out of your very busy day, especially if you work from home. Let me tell you, once you have butterflied a whole chicken, your fear of small poultry will be eradicated, forever. You will, from then on, face whole birds, in the kitchen, like a boss. If your chicken experience is limited, then you do have an alternative. If you are cooking for yourself and are just starting out culinarily, you can just buy a whole chicken, pre-cut into four parts. Fourthly, you can be delighted by a one-dish meal in a pan, because you have vegetables in addition, as sides to the chicken.

Serves 4–6


1 butterflied chicken (approx. 3 1/2 to 4 lbs)
4 teaspoons dried rosemary (add whole grain mustard, if desired, to taste)
Juice of 1 lemon , with more lemons to serve
1 red onion, cleaned and chopped into eights, with skin on
6 tablespoons olive oil
Good sea salt

Diced carrots, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets


  • Lay a whole chicken breast side down on a flat surface. Using poultry shears or very heavy duty, sharp, scissors cut through all down one side of the backbone. Then, cut along the other side of the backbone. This will allow you to completely remove the backbone. Flip the bird over. Press and flatten the chicken as you open it out.
  • Put chicken into a large freezer bag. Put 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary on top of the chicken. Add mustard, if preferred.
  • Cut a lemon in half and squeeze juice into the bag, throwing the rinds in the bag afterwards, too. Add the chopped onion into the bag.
  • Pour olive oil into the bag and then seal the bag.
  • Squeeze the freezer bag, particularly around the edges before placing it in the refrigerator.
  • Marinate the chicken for at least a couple of hours.
  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Take chicken out of the fridge.
  • Once chicken is at room temperature, lay chicken (skin side up) along with lemon rinds and onion pieces, on a large foil-lined roasting pan.
  • Add a little more dried rosemary onto the legs and breast of chicken.
  • Scatter the vegetables in the large pan around the uncooked chicken.
  • Cook for 45 minutes. More time may be needed, if your oven isn’t evenly hot.
  • The chicken should emerge with a crisp-skin and tender meat within.
  • Take the pan out and cut chicken into four to six pieces.
  • Arrange on a plate along with vegetables and onion.
  • Pour golden juices from the pan over the chicken and sprinkle generously with sea salt.
  • Cut a lemon or two into quarters and scatter these about the chicken. The cooked lemon can be eaten wholesale, skin and all.


*The mustard is highly recommended to add real flavor to the chicken.

*Serve with a side of bread, buttered pasta or instant mashed potatoes, if desired.

A golden butterflied chicken with roast vegetables in a one-pan meal
Butterflied roast chicken on a bed of roasted vegetables

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