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A spatchcocked cheesy-stuffed chicken with lemon pepper seasoning is roasted until crisp and served alongside broccolini and creamy polenta.
"To spatchcock a bird is to remove its spine and flatten the poultry before roasting it," Rach says. "The purpose of this technique is two-fold: it lessens the roasting time and it provides for more even cooking of the white and dark meat. You need poultry shears for this job or a sharp cleaver but shears are much easier to handle. For larger birds, such as a turkey, a cleaver is necessary, but spatchcocking a very large bird is best left to a professional butcher."
- 1 ½ cups fresh ricotta, 12 ounces
- Zest of 1 lemon, then halve lemon and reserve
- 2 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
- About 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper, plus more to season skin
- About ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- A handful of parsley, finely chopped
- One 4-pound organic chicken (or minimum 3 ½ pounds)
- Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling, or non-aerosol olive oil spray
- Kosher salt
- 2 bunches broccolini, trimmed
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ cup drained chili pepper rings, sweet or hot
- Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) spray, or about 3 tablespoons
- Salt and pepper
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
- About ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
For the spatchcock chicken, preheat oven to 425˚F.
Place ricotta in small mixing bowl and combine with lemon zest, garlic, pepper, parm and parsley.
Clip tips of wings with poultry shears. Place chicken breast-side down and remove the spine of the bird by cutting along either side of it in slow even strokes with shears. Turn the bird over and evenly press down on the breastbone to flatten out the bird.
Loosen the skin under the breasts and over the thigh and leg meat. Evenly distribute the cheese mixture. Drizzle the skin with EVOO or spray lightly with non-aerosol cooking spray, then season with kosher salt and coarse black pepper.
Roast chicken with cut lemon alongside on middle rack for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350˚F and roast 40 to 45 minutes more to an internal temperature of 160˚F-165˚F. Top bird with roasted lemon juice before serving.
Carve bird into quarters to serve with vegetable and starch of choice.
If roasting broccolini separately from chicken, preheat oven to 425˚F. Arrange broccolini on foil-lined and parchment-topped baking sheet and top with sliced lemon, garlic and pickled peppers, dress with EVOO and season liberally with salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes or until tender-crisp and browned at edges.
(If roasting broccolini with the chicken, add to oven about half-way through chicken roasting time.)
For the polenta, heat milk and stock seasoned with a fat pinch of salt and once hot, whisk in polenta and keep whisking until liquid is absorbed, 3 minutes, then stir in cheese, honey, pepper and butter. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve.