This dish, comprised of only 5 ingredients, packs a lot of flavor into something so deceivingly simple. It also utilizes a few different useful techniques, namely roasting, building a pan sauce, and flambe, all of which work together to create a comforting new twist on the classic roasted chicken and vegetables.
Yes, you get to set the sauce on fire. Be smart and safe about it, and have fun.
Butterflied Roasted Chicken with a Whiskey Cream Pan Sauce
One 3-4 pound chicken, giblets removed
4-5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into finger-length pieces (if you have NBA player-sized hands, go with your pinkie when you are sizing this)
2-3 tablespoons whiskey
1 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spread the carrots across the bottom of an oven-proof skillet that is just a hair larger than the bird, once butterflied. I highly recommend a 12″ cast iron skillet for this, as it gives you an insanely juicy bird with fantastically crispy skin.
2. Using a pair of sharp poultry or kitchen scissors, or a sharp knife, cut out the backbone of the chicken* and then flip the legs so that all the meat is facing upward. Confused? This is what it looks like. Once you’ve done it once or twice, you’ll be able to do it in under a minute.
3. Place the chicken, meat side up, in the skillet, season liberally with kosher salt (you’ll end up using almost a tablespoon of salt, and that’s ok) and roast until done. If you’ve used your cast iron skillet, this can take as little as 45 minutes if your bird is on the smaller end; if not, it should take roughly an hour. There are several ways to tell if the bird is done: the legs feel a bit different in their sockets when you jiggle them, the skin at the ankle of the bird starts to separate a bit from the bone (but not too much!), the skin over the whole bird is a burnished golden brown (though this color will also depend on what material your cooking vessel is fashioned from), and the juices run clear/almost clear when you pierce the deepest part of the thigh. You can also pierce that same part of the thigh with a paring knife, all the way down to just shy of bone, and let the knife hang out there for three or four seconds, then remove it and touch the flat side of the knife to your lip. If it burns, the bird is done. If all of this sounds like medieval wizardry to you, you’d best go with a good meat thermometer (this is a good one; this one is fantastic).
4. Remove the skillet from the oven and remove the chicken and carrots to a serving plate, leaving any bits of skin or vegetables that have stuck to the pan behind. While the chicken is resting (and yes, you should let it rest for about 15 minutes), make the pan sauce.
5. Place the skillet on the stove and turn the heat to high, bringing the drippings to a simmer. Turn the heat off* and pour the whiskey into the pan. Using a very long match or a butane lighter, ignite the whiskey (you may have an initial large burst of flame, so make sure your hair is pulled back, your face is turned, and you are standing as far back as you can. You may also consider making sure that you don’t have a stack of mail on the counter top right next to the stove). Let the flame die down until gone, then pour the cream into the pan and turn the heat back to medium. Simmer until slightly thickened, just a minute or two, then remove from heat. Taste for seasoning (you shouldn’t need extra salt if you adequately salted your chicken) and set aside.
6. Cut the chicken for serving and pour the sauce over it. Serve immediately.
*save that backbone for stock!