How to Achieve a ‘Steakhouse Style’ Sear on Your Home Cooked Steak

Ever wonder how steakhouses achieve such a beautiful crust on the outside of their steaks? The answer is simple: Heat. Really, really, really, high heat.

Continue reading “How to Achieve a ‘Steakhouse Style’ Sear on Your Home Cooked Steak”

How to Cook with Stainless Steel

Stainless steel:  The cookware that strikes fear into the hearts of even the most experienced cooks, largely because it’s known as the cookware that everything sticks to.  This post is about why that happens, how to avoid it, and why you should actually cook with stainless steel most of the time.

Note:  The technique described in this post only applies to browning and searing – it does NOT apply to, say, sautéing vegetables or garlic or making a pan sauce for pasta; in those cases, add your oil along with the other ingredients and bring everything up to temperature slowly over medium-low heat.

The Short Version

Rule # 1: Hot pan, cold oil, don’t flip too soon… nothing will ever stick.

Rule #2: You must know how hot your cooking surface is. I would highly recommend getting an infrared thermometer – they’re inexpensive, and will help ensure that your pan is hot enough. Also invaluable for such tasks as determining how hot your grill grate is, how hot your cast iron skillet is (think searing steaks), etc – I literally use it almost every time I cook

Rule#3: You must use a tri-ply (3 layer) pan. All-Clad is the gold standard for stainless steel cookware, and they do make lovely products. Personally, I’ve found that Tramontina also makes an excellent product, and is generally available at a lower price. Full transparency – I’ve got one of each!

The Full Story

I’ve been there.  We’ve all been there:  You put some oil into a stainless steel pan, bring it up to temp, lay your chicken skin-side down into the skillet.  You hear the satisfying sizzle, see the bubbling fat and visions of perfectly crispy chicken dance in your head… until you realize it’s stuck to the pan.  Give it a minute, you think to yourself, it will release when it’s ready.  At least that’s what I’ve been told. 

And so you wait. 

And you wait some more. 

Five minutes.  Ten minutes. 

You smell your chicken start to burn.  Still stuck to the pan, you violently attack your chicken with a metal spatula in a vain attempt to scrape it off before it’s too late, but it’s really on there.  You finally manage to pry it loose from the stainless steel skillet, leaving half the chicken still stuck to the bottom of the pan, and a horrible mess to contend with to boot.

To hell with it, you think to yourself, I’m just going back to using my good old non-stick pan forever.  And into the forgotten recesses of the cabinet goes your stainless steel pan.

Here’s why that happens:

Stainless steel, at the microscopic level, is actually a very porous material.  It may look smooth, but it isn’t.  In fact, it’s a very wavy, rough surface, filled with troughs and peaks.  And as stainless steel heats, those waves begin to ebb and flow, each one becoming a steel jaw waiting to clamp onto whatever is in that pan with a wicked death grip that will never let go.

That being said, stainless steel is unquestionably the preferred cookware for professional chefs – it heats more evenly that anything non-stick, retains heat better, is oven-safe to a higher temperature, browns protein more deeply and more evenly that non-stick ever could, and leaves you with beautiful fond which is the base for making a glorious pan sauce.  Using stainless steel cookware is one of those things that separates professional chefs from home cooks and part of the reason home cooking doesn’t taste like restaurant food.

Professional chefs don’t have the jaws-of-death problem with stainless steel, and it’s not because they’re practicing some kind of dark magic where they sold their soul to the devil to defy the laws of physics.  They just use it properly.  And so can you.

Here’s how:

First, you must charge (preheat) your stainless steel pan with nothing in it.  As the pan heats, the porous waves in your pan begin to ripple.  It is this rippling that causes the jaws-of-death, so you don’t want anything in your pan at this time.  However, as the heat increases, the speed of the rippling also increases.  At a certain point, that rippling will become so rapid that those microscopic teeth, rather than clamping down on whatever is in the pan, will in fact begin to bounce whatever is in the pan away from the surface, making it both very hot AND very non-stick.

Consider the following:

A water droplet (approximately 1/4 teaspoon) dropped into a cold stainless steel pan. When the droplet hits the pan, its surface tension breaks over the tiny jaws on the surface of the pan, and it splats.
A water droplet of the same amount dropped into a warmer pan, approximately 150°F. The surface tension of the droplet still breaks and the heat evaporates the droplet almost instantly.
A water droplet dropped into a pan heated to approximately 175°F. It’s trying to hold together, but its surface tension still breaks and again, it evaporates nearly on contact.
At just over 200°F, something very interesting happens…
Our little water droplet, rather than being eaten by the stainless jaws of death, actually bounces right off the surface of the pan. The surface tension of the water droplet does NOT break, and it rolls around the pan like a little ball of mercury.

At just above 200°F, that stainless steel surface is more non-stick than any teflon-coated non-stick pan could ever wish to be.  Thanks to physics (a phenomenon known as the Leidenfrost Effect, to be exact), not only is your pan ripping hot and ready to sear, but nothing is going to stick to it.

If you’re going to make the leap to cooking with stainless steel (which I highly recommend you do), I suggest charging (preheating) your pan to somewhere around 225°F – this will ensure that even if the pan drops a few degrees because of what you put into it, the pan itself won’t drop below the necessary temperature to maintain the Leidenfrost Effect.

The Dark Magic in Summary:

  1. Take whatever protein you’re going to cook out of the fridge and let rest on the counter for 10-15 minutes so that its surface temperature is closer to room temperature.  You don’t want the temperature of your pan to drop too much when the items are added to the pan.
  2. Preheat your pan to somewhere between 225°F – 235°F.  Use an infrared thermometer or the water droplet test to verify.  If using the water droplet test, once the desired result is achieved, which will happen just above 200°F (the droplet should ball up like mercury), wait another 20 – 30 seconds to raise the temperature of the pan even higher.
  3. Add a clean, high smoke-point fat to the pan at this time.  Vegetable oil, ghee (clarified butter), avocado oil or canola oil are all good choices.  Regular butter, bacon fat, and olive oil will just burn on contact.
  4. Once the hot fat is added and is distributed evenly over the surface of the pan, add the protein to the pan.  Do not crowd the pan lest the temperature of the pan drop too much.  Once it’s in there, lower the heat a bit and allow protein to sear, undisturbed.  Also, if you move it too soon, it might stick to the pan.  So remember this:  Once you’ve got your protein in the pan…  No touching!

For at least 7-8 minutes for chicken with skin on, 3-5 minutes for steak, pork, or skinless chicken.  Brown means brown.  That’s where the flavor is.

Good things come to those who wait.  Like these gorgeously crispy chicken thighs:

All About Pasta: Part I – The Best Pasta to Cook With

Sometimes I just have to admit it:  My wife is right.

My wife Claudia is right about a lot of things more often than I would like to admit.

One of the areas where I think I am usually right, and she thinks I am usually wrong, is our disagreement regarding her religious devotion to certain big-name brands being better than others, or being superior to the ‘generic’ brands.  Honestly, in a side-by-side comparison of, say, King Arthur flour vs Gold Medal flour vs Safeway flour – I’ve never noticed much of a difference (but I’m not a baker like Claudia, I’m a cook); my experience has been that people are just willing to pay (unnecessarily) more for name brands.

For years, I insisted this was true about pasta also.  But I was wrong and she was right.  How pasta is manufactured is critical to a successful pasta dish, and, as it turns out, different pasta companies make their pasta in different ways – and that really does make all the difference.

When it comes down to pasta, there are basically three choices available:

Homemade Pasta.  Arguably, fresh, homemade pasta is the way to go.  It only requires a minute or two in boiling water and it is the silkiest, stickiest, sauciest thing that your sauce – or your pallet – will ever stick to.  It’s also an all day project that makes a huge mess, takes a lot of time, and requires a minimum of $100 worth of special equipment that takes up a lot of counter space and likely will never be used for anything else.  Ain’t nobody got time (or money) for that.  Not unless you’re running your own high-end Italian restaurant.

Pre-made Fresh Pasta.  This pasta is 99% as good as the homemade pasta.  Unless your a pasta sommelier you’re probably not going to notice the difference.  It’s available in the refrigerated section of well stocked grocery stores as well as at many specialty food stores.  It’s generally going to run you around $10.00/lb – approximately the same price as filet mignon, when it’s on sale.  A great choice, but not particularly economical.  Also, it requires refrigeration and has a quick expiration, so it can’t be kept on hand as a pantry staple.  Delicious, but not nearly delicious enough to justify the price or the fact that it’s not practical to keep on hand.

Dried Pasta.  For the rest of us mortals, dried pasta is the way to go.  It cooks through in 5 – 15 minutes (depending on the cut), lasts nearly forever in the pantry, and properly treated is 99% as good as the other two types of pasta listed above.  The trick, as my wife will tell you, is selecting the right brand…

So why does brand matter so much when it comes to selecting dried pasta?  The answer lies in how the pasta is produced; more specifically, the type of die used to extrude the pasta (i.e., squish it into the shape that it’s supposed to be).  I picked up this helpful tidbit of information through chatting with one of the purveyors at my local Italian specialty market.  He explained that the best pasta was extruded through dies made of bronze; that the next best pasta was extruded through dies made of stainless steel, and that the cheapest pasta was extruded through dies made of Teflon.  Further research in both various cookbooks and online confirmed this, at least in a general sense.

As it turns out, bronze dies are the slowest extruders, stainless steel is in the middle, and Teflon dies are the fastest.  It stands to reason, therefore, that pasta extruded through Teflon will be the cheapest, because the increased production rate translates directly to increased productivity, and thus passes the savings garnished by higher efficiency on to the consumer.

Sort of.

Savings, yes, if all that matters to you is dollars.  But there is a trade-off, as it turns out, and a pretty big one at that.  You see, when pasta is extruded through bronze dies, it leaves the finished surface of the pasta somewhat rough.  This does two things:  First, it keeps the pasta from sticking to itself during the cooking and draining process, requiring less attention and also being a bit more forgiving if your sauce isn’t done at the same time your pasta is or your guests are taking their sweet time coming to the table.  Second, and more importantly, it makes it easier for whatever sauce you’re using to stick to your pasta creating a more delicious and cohesive dish.

Smoother pasta, extruded through Teflon or stainless steel dies, as it turns out, requires constant stirring while cooking, and once drained will probably require a dash of olive oil to keep it from sticking to itself once it has been drained.  The problem with this is that, aside from requiring constant attention, now your pasta is all slippery with oil and your sauce won’t stick to it properly.  Ever made a beautiful pasta dish, only to have all the sauce slide off the pasta leaving you with flavorless pasta and a watery mess at the bottom of your plate?  That’s why.  Using pasta that’s been extruded through Teflon makes this tragic situation an inevitability.  Pasta extruded through stainless is noticeably better, but still not nearly as good as pasta extruded through bronze.

So which brands use which method?  Near as I can tell, De Cecco is the only pasta brand readily available in the United States that uses bronze dies for the extruding process.  If you can get your hands on imported Barilla Pasta (branded as “Academia Barilla”) they too use bronze dies, although I haven’t seen this too much in regular grocery stores.  The American Barilla (the one in the blue box that we all know and love) as well as the ALDI brand pasta use stainless steel dies.  Most generic pasta sold in major grocery stores uses Teflon.

In terms of cost, De Cecco and Academia Barilla will cost you around $3.00/lb, unless you can find it on sale (which with De Cecco is pretty easy to do).  American Barilla will cost you around $2.00/lb and pasta from ALDI will cost about $0.89/lb.  Most generic grocery stores pastas are around $1.00/lb.

Bottom line?  For 2 or 3 bucks a pound, buy De Cecco.  If you’re counting every penny and have an ALDI near you, buy ALDI pasta.  Don’t waste your money on generic pasta, unless you have to; Barilla, even though it is extruded using stainless steel,  is light years ahead of most generic pasta brands.  Also worthy of note:  Trader Joe’s, which is notoriously secretive about how and where they source their products, has no information about how their pasta is extruded (big surprise).  However, having cooked with Trader Joe’s pasta, it does all the things you want it to do – doesn’t require a lot of attention during the cooking process, doesn’t need oil to keep it from sticking together when drained, sauce clings to it well.  If I had to guess, I’d say it’s sourced from a manufacturer that uses bronze dies.  At $1.49/lb, that’s not a bad price.

In any case, even the cheapest, Teflon-extruded pasta isn’t that bad.  Pasta is like making love – When it’s good, it’s really good; when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.  So don’t let all this information scare you off from making pasta at least once a week.

Up next?  The Four Italian Mother Sauces: Aglio E Olio, Alfredo, Marinara, and Pesto.  Pretty much all pasta dishes use one of these as a base and the possibilities are endless.  Stay tuned for Round 2 of “All About Pasta.”


Steaks Sous Vides – The Perfect Steak

It doesn’t get much better than this people.

If you’ve spent much time reading this blog, you know that I’m all about temperature, because temperature is the only reliable way to gauge how your food is going to turn out.

Of course temperature and heat are different things.  Heat is about how much energy you’re putting into your food whereas temperature is a way to read how much heat is in food already.

Think about it like this:  If you decide to slow-roast a piece of meat on your smoker or in your oven at a low temperature over a period of hours, you’re putting a little bit of heat into it over a long period of time.  Conversely, if you sear a steak over a hot grill or in a hot cast iron pan, you’re putting a lot of heat into it very rapidly.

The reason it’s hard to cook that perfect steak, which is medium rare bumper to bumper with a crusty, golden edge is because there’s almost no way to cook it on low enough heat for it to turn out truly perfect.  Even slowly bringing your steak up to temperature in a 200°F oven before searing it (the method I generally recommend) is going to leave striations of doneness to a small degree.  Put too much heat in and it’ll be a bullseye of doneness with only the very center cooked correctly.

Enter the Sous Vide cooker – the solution to all of your protein problems.  No more striations of doneness, no more raw centers, no more accidentally-well-done food.  Just perfect, all the time.

How does this work?  Basically, when you cook something sous vide you hold the entire piece of protein at exactly the temperature you want for an extended period of time so no matter how much time it takes, you never overcook it.

So, what exactly is sous vide?  Sous vide is the process of cooking something in a water bath which is set to an exact temperature.  Essentially, what you do is you vacuum seal you protein in a plastic bag, either using a vacuum sealer or the water displacement method (I use the latter method; it’s cheaper and has never caused me any problems) to get all the air out of the bag and drop it in a pot of water that’s being held at a constant temperature until it’s cooked through; then you simply finish it off over high heat to sear the outside and there you have it – perfectly cooked food.

This is, in fact, the way high end steakhouses typically cook their steak.  Ever wonder how a table of five can order three different cuts of steak, one rare, two medium-rare, one medium, and one medium-well and they all arrive at the table at the same time, perfectly cooked, exactly as ordered, edge to edge?  The answer is sous vide.  They’ve had those steaks sitting in different water baths at different temperatures for hours, waiting to be finished off on a hot grill and brought to your table.

That’s the secret.

You can achieve these results at home too.  There are three ways to do this:

  1. Stove top method.  Heat water in a large pot to exactly the temperature you want, verify using a thermometer, and constantly fiddle with the temperature for hours until you’ve got whatever it is you’re making cooked through.  Forget it.  Too much time, too hard.
  2. Beer Cooler method.  This works astonishingly well.  Essentially, you get your water bath to a few degrees higher than your cooking temperature and the insulated walls of the cooler should hold your water at a relatively constant temperature for a few hours; long enough to cook a steak.  J. Kenji Lopez-Alt describes the process here.
  3. Purchase a sous vide immersion circulator.  It used to be that these things were too pricey for the average home cook, but due to the popularity of the sous vide method of cooking they are becoming increasingly affordable.  Generally, they’ll run you anywhere from $75-$150.  I got mine at Aldi for $49.99.  So far so good.

No matter what method you use, you really owe it to yourself to try cooking something sous vide the next time you have a couple hours.  Here’s a short recipe for the steak featured above.


For the Garlic-Herb Butter:

  1. 1 stick salted (yeah, i know) butter, room temperature
  2. 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  4. 3 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
  5. 2 cloves garlic, smashed into a paste (or squished in a garlic press)

For the Steak:

  1. 2 steaks (filet, strip, or ribeye), 1.5 – 2 inches thick (the thicker the better, ask your butcher to cut you a few steaks if the ones in the case are less than 1.5 inches thick – remember, you’re searing these off at the end and it is possible to overcook your steak during that process).
  2. 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  3. Fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, etc), optional
  4. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the Garlic-Herb Butter:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until very well combined.
  2. Using plastic wrap, roll the butter into a log shape and twist the ends off (like a tootsie roll)
  3. Refrigerate until needed.

For the Steak:

  1.  Heat a water bath to 130°F for medium rare (135° for medium, anything past that forget the whole sous vide thing and just incinerate it on your stovetop; it’s easier that way).
  2. Season steaks generously with salt and pepper.  Toss each steak individually in a food-grade gallon size freezer bag along with the smashed garlic clove and herbs, if using.
  3. Using the water displacement method, seal the steaks in their bags.
  4. Introduce steaks to water bath and make sure they’re fully submerged, weighing them down if necessary.
  5. Hold steaks in the water bath at a constant temperature for at least 2 hours and not more than 4 hours.
  6. Remove steaks from bags and pat very dry with paper towels (Note:  they will look really weird – grayish brown and mushy – after coming out of the water bath; don’t worry, all is well).
  7. Sear the steaks over high heat, either in a cast-iron pan or ripping hot grill (surface temperature of heating surface should be 400°F – 500°F), 15-30 seconds per side.
  8. Remove steaks from heating surface and allow to rest; while resting, top steaks with sliced rounds of garlic herb butter and tent lightly with foil until butter is melted, 3-5 minutes
  9. Slice and serve


The Best, Easiest Roast Chicken


Stick with me on this one people:  Trust me.

If you do, you will be rewarded with the juiciest, tenderest most succulent chicken with the crispiest, most delicious crackling skin you’ve ever had.

A good roast chicken should be both simple and delicious rather than fussy and difficult.  The method described in this post is, in my opinion, hands down the best way to roast a chicken.  In fact, it’s so easy, so good and so delicious that it is now the only way I roast a chicken.  Here’s the how and the why:

The traditional method of roasting a chicken involves stuffing the cavity, trussing the bird, and placing it breast side up in a deep roasting pan and roasting it at 325°F for about two hours.  This method is time consuming, and poses an additional problem:  Uneven cooking. 

You see, you want the chicken breasts to be moist and delicious, and you don’t really want pink thighs and drums.  But when you place a whole chicken in a roasting pan, the breasts are exposed to the full force of the oven’s heat, while the drums and thighs are deep in the roasting pan.  This means that the breasts are getting incinerated into dry stringy bits of grossness while the thighs and drums take their sweet time coming up to temp. 

I’ve seen all kinds of attempts to solutions to the problem, all the way from icing down the breasts first to constantly rotating the bird in the oven (which, by the way, every time you open the oven door your oven loses 25° worth of heat and you extend the process to like 3 hours or more).

What if I told you there was a way to perfectly roast a chicken in less than an hour? Well, there is…

You may observe that the chicken in the cover picture looks a bit… flat.  That’s because it is.  In fact, it’s had its backbone removed and it’s been flipped over, breast-side up. 

A lot of people refer to this process as butterflying or spatchcocking.  It’s very simple to do. 

To spatchcock your chicken, use the following procedure:

  1. Remove your chicken from its bag and retrieve giblets and whatever else might be hiding in the cavity of the chicken.  Pat the chicken dry and transfer it to a large cutting board.
  2. If there are any giant pieces of skin or blobs of fat protruding from the tail end or neck end, trim them off.
  3. Place the chicken breast-side down on the cutting board, with the neck closest to you.
  4. Locate the chicken’s neck and tail, and feel along the back of the chicken to get an idea of where the backbone is (measure twice, cut once).
  5. Using a sharp boning knife or a sturdy set of kitchen or poultry sheers, remove the backbone from the chicken by starting on one side of the neck and snipping all the way down the spine to the tail.  Repeat on the other side.
  6. Snip the backbone into three pieces and reserve for making stock or a pan sauce
  7. Flip the chicken over breast-side up, and make sure the legs and thighs are flipped in such a way as to be fully exposed (like in the picture), not under the chicken.
  8. Using firm pressure, press down with your palm on the center of the chicken’s breast until it’s pretty flat, like you’re giving it CPR.  You may or may not hear the breastbone pop, but the idea here is to get it as flat as possible.
  9. Place your chicken breast-side up on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil.  You can put some lemon wedges under your chicken if you like.

Now, you ask, why have you gone to all the trouble of doing this?  Well, aside from making carving a cinch, having this nice flat chicken sitting on top of a wire rack rather than deep in a roasting pan means that the whole bird will come up to temperature at roughly the same rate.  In fact, pop the chicken into a 400°F – 450°F oven for about 45 minutes and, lo and behold, the breasts will be getting finished right around the time the thighs are up to temperature.  You’ve just saved yourself at least 90 minutes and your chicken will be juicy through and through.

A Word on Chicken and Temperature

If you’ve read enough of the posts on this blog you should have figured out by now that we always cook using temperature not time.  Speaking of temperature, the poor chicken is probably the most overcooked item on anyone’s regular rotation.  The reason for this is that chickens can house some really nasty bugs, not the least of which are salmonella and e. coli, both of which will leave you wretching up your guts for a few days – best case scenario.  Because we’re aware of this, we generally follow the USDA guidelines and roast our chicken until the internal temperature of the breast is 165°F and the thighs are 180°F – meaning that they are dry and sad and horrible, like this guy:

It does also, however, mean that even a total idiot can cook a chicken or a turkey and not poison anyone.  And that’s the audience that the USDA is shooting for: the general public, the total idiots, the lowest common denominator.  And that’s fine, because as a government organization, that’s their job – to protect the general public from themselves.

However, that is not my job.  My job is to help you get the juiciest, most delicious, succulent bird on the table that you can.  If you’re reading this blog, I’m assuming that you’re not a total idiot (if you are, and you’re still reading this blog, God help you).

So here’s the thing:  It’s not like salmonella (or anything bacteria, virus, amoeba, what have you) are alive at one temperature and then suddenly dead at the next.  The process of pasteurization, that is, the process of ensuring that food born pathogens are eliminated from food, is a matter of both time and temperature.  So the FDA (also a government organization whose job is to keep us safe from ourselves, but in this case it applies to restaurants and food vendors and producers, not individuals) has this to say about pasteurization and poultry:

FDA Pasteurization Time for Poultry

Temperature (°F)



13663.3 Minutes64.0 Minutes
14025.2 Minutes28.1 Minutes
1458.4 Minutes10.5 Minutes
1502.7 Minutes3.8 Minutes
15544.2 Seconds1.2 Minutes
16013.7 Seconds25.6 Seconds
165Instant<10 Seconds

What you will notice here is that the USDA recommends going all the way to 165°F because at that temperature, it’s a pretty much guaranteed fail-safe.  It’s also guaranteed nasty, dried out bird.  Bottom line here?  According to the FDA, a chicken that’s been held at 145°F for 8.4 minutes is every bit as safe to eat as a bird roasted to within an inch of incineration to 165°F.

Of course, 145°F for a chicken is a little on the rare side; it’ll still be a bit pink and gelatinous and people will know it isn’t cooked – at least to what they’re used to.  My recommendation is to insert a probe thermometer into the thickest, coldest part of your chicken when you put it into the oven, wait for it to hit 150°F, set a timer for 5 minutes, then pull it out of the oven.  That way, you’re well within FDA recommendations and just in case your probe thermometer is off by a degree or two or you didn’t get it all the way into the thickest, coldest part of your bird, you’ll still be fine.  I’ve been doing it this way for years and I’ve never poisoned anyone.  Do verify, using an Instant Read Thermometer, that BOTH the breast AND the joint between the leg and thigh BOTH read at least 150°F.

Okay.  With all that out of the way, here’s the recipe:


For the Chicken:

  1. 1 Whole Chicken approximately 5 lbs (you can do two if you like, just make sure they’re about the same weight)
  2. Olive oil


For the Poultry Rub

  1. 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
  2. 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  3. 2 teaspoons MSG (yeah, yeah, it’s not gonna kill you, it’s perfectly safe, omit if you like, just double the salt… but trust me on this, use the MSG, sold as Accent and available in the spices section of most grocery stores)
  4. 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  5. 2 teaspoons dried mustard
  6. 2 teaspoons dried powdered oregano
  7. 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  8. 1 teaspoon dried basil
  9. 1 teaspoon paprika
  10. 2 teaspoons baking powder (optional, for extra-crispy skin)

Special Equipment

  1. Wire rack set above baking sheet.  (Line baking sheet with foil for easy clean up.  No wire rack?  Use a grill grate).
  2. Probe thermometer
  3. Poultry sheers, sharp boning knife, or really sturdy scissors


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.  Arrange rack to be in the upper two-thirds of the oven.
  2. Combine poultry rub ingredients and whisk or shake to combine thoroughly.
  3. Spatchcock chicken according to instructions at beginning of post.
  4. Gently separate skin from breasts, thighs and legs by working your fingers underneath.  Leave in place though, do not remove.
  5. Drizzle chicken with olive oil; just enough for there to be something for the rub to stick to.  Season chicken with poultry rub from Step 2, above.  Be sure to get some of the rub underneath the skin also.
  6. Transfer chicken to wire rack on rimmed baking sheet.  Use an instant read thermometer to find the coldest part of the chicken breast.  Insert probe thermometer here.
  7. Place chicken into the oven, legs toward the back, and roast for 10 to 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 400°F and roast chicken until probe thermometer reads 150°F.  Turn off oven, set timer for 5 minutes.  Remove chicken and verify that the other breast and the joint between the thighs and legs on both sides are also at least 150°F.
  8. Let rest 10 minutes, then carve and serve.  Carry over cooking will bring your bird up to at least 155°F while resting, and that’s good enough for me.

Just look at the finished product:


If you’d like to make a pan sauce, do the following while your chicken is in the oven:

Ingredients (This is more of a method than anything else, use what you like or what you have on hand):

  1. 1 tablespoon butter
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  4. 3 chicken backbone pieces
  5. A few shallots, or 1/2 of a minced onion
  6. 2-3 cloves garlic
  7. 1 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
  8. Handful of fresh herbs
  9. Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 10-12 inch stainless steel skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Season the chicken backbone pieces aggressively with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken backbone pieces (remember those?) skin side down and sear until golden brown.  Allow to cook in the pan, undisturbed for 4-5 minutes – brown means brown.
  4. Once well browned, flip the backbone pieces over and continue to cook another 2-3 minutes and allow fat to render.
  5. Remove backbone pieces – you should now how some lovely fond built up in the bottom of your pan
  6. Add a few shallots or 1/2 a minced onion to the pan and sweat, scraping up the fond as the onion releases its moisture
  7. Add 2-3 minced garlic cloves and sauté with onion until fragrant
  8. Deglaze the pan with a cup or so of dry white wine or chicken stock and allow to reduce by 2/3
  9. Add a handful of fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, thyme, whatever) along with the juice of a lemon (for acid) and continue to cook for another 2 minutes over low heat, or until sauce coats the back of a spoon and streaks the bottom of the pan when a spoon is dragged through it.
  10. Serve sauce over chicken.