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.
For the Chicken:
- 2 whole chickens, spatchcocked
- 2 sticks salted butter (yeah, I know)
- 1/4 cup Real, Grade A Maple Syrup (not that fake stuff, seriously)
- 9 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black pepper.
For the Gravy (optional, but seriously, make this):
- 2 chicken backbones, snipped into 1-2 inch pieces, from 2 spatchcocked chickens
- 1 medium shallot, finely diced
- 8oz mushrooms, minced or very thinly sliced (the pre-sliced ones at the grocery store are way too thick).
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 32oz chicken stock (from one box)
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
For the Chickens:
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- 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.
- 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.
- Place 6 whole rosemary sprigs on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Season chicken backbone pieces aggressively with salt and pepper.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons high smoke point fat (ghee, clarified butter, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil).
- 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.
- Remove pieces and reserve on a plate
- 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).
- Add mushrooms and sauté until they have released much of their moisture and begin to brown slightly
- Add flour and mix in. Continue to stir until flour begins to give off a lightly nutty aroma.
- 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.
- Remove chicken backbone pieces and discard.
- 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.