Maple Butter Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Thyme

Celebrate Autumn with this succulent roast chicken. I think this might be the best roast chicken I’ve ever made.

It is all at once lightly sweet, salty, just a little sticky (like BBQ sauce) and beautifully savory. My resident food critic, Claudia, (who also happens to be my wife) loved it. And this is a big deal, because she is generally a chicken-hater. Best of all this is super easy, so you can relax and let the scent of rosemary, thyme and maple fill your home.

Ingredients:

For the Chicken:

  1. 2 whole chickens, spatchcocked
  2. 2 sticks salted butter (yeah, I know)
  3. 1/4 cup Real, Grade A Maple Syrup (not that fake stuff, seriously)
  4. 9 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
  5. 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  6. Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black pepper.

For the Gravy (optional, but seriously, make this):

  1. 2 chicken backbones, snipped into 1-2 inch pieces, from 2 spatchcocked chickens
  2. 1 medium shallot, finely diced
  3. 8oz mushrooms, minced or very thinly sliced (the pre-sliced ones at the grocery store are way too thick).
  4. 3 tablespoons flour
  5. 32oz chicken stock (from one box)
  6. 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions

For the Chickens:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Begin by making the maple butter: Place 2 sticks salted butter, 3 sprigs rosemary, three sprigs thyme, and 1/4 cup maple syrup in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until butter is melted and ceases foaming, and begins to darken ever so slightly. It will give off a lightly nutty aroma. Remove from heat and allow to sit at room temperature, covered, for about 30 minutes.
  3. Spatchcock your chickens by removing the backbone from your chickens, either with a sharp boning knife or sturdy pair of kitchen shears. Follow the instructions here if you need instructions on how to do it – actually, just read the whole article; there’s a lot of useful information there.
  4. Place 6 whole rosemary sprigs on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.
  5. Lay your chickens breast-side up on the wire rack on top of the rosemary sprigs. Season chickens generously with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let the sit for a few moments while making the maple butter.
  6. Transfer approximately 1/4 cup maple butter into a separate container. Using the maple butter from this container, brush chickens generously (get under the skin too if you can!) with maple butter. Discard what remains from this container.
  7. Place chickens on the center rack in the oven, legs facing the back. Roast for 20 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Baste chickens every 15-20 minutes with remaining maple butter.
  8. Chickens are done when the breast reaches 150°F and the joint between the thigh and drumstick reaches 165°F. Remove from oven, tent loosely with foil and allow to rest 15-20 minutes.

For the gravy:

  1. Season chicken backbone pieces aggressively with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons high smoke point fat (ghee, clarified butter, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil).
  4. Add chicken backbone pieces, skin side down, to skillet, and allow to cook undisturbed for 5-7 minutes or until nicely browned (remember, brown means BROWN). Flip pieces and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
  5. Remove pieces and reserve on a plate
  6. To the same skillet (do not wash it out) add shallot and sauté 2-3 minutes until soft and translucent (reduce heat to medium if shallots begin to brown).
  7. Add mushrooms and sauté until they have released much of their moisture and begin to brown slightly
  8. Add flour and mix in. Continue to stir until flour begins to give off a lightly nutty aroma.
  9. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the browned maple butter, reserved chicken pieces, and 32oz stock to the pot. Bring to a boil and allow to reduce by 1/2, 20-25 minutes.
  10. Remove chicken backbone pieces and discard.
  11. Stir in the cream and return liquid to a bare simmer. Allow to reduce for another 10 minutes over low heat until desired consistency is achieved.

Serve with mashed potatoes, and a nice green vegetable.

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