Well, hopefully, like other things, butterflying a chicken gets easier with practice. I’ve never done it before and was mildly traumatized by the experience, but only because I am a delicate flower. I ended up taking care of the back—very onerously with my kitchen shears, wondering if I was cutting in the wrong places, because it was so slow-going—but not the breastbone. The latter refused to come out, and I started thinking the chicken was going to end up totally mangled and unrecognizable so I gave up. It worked out fine, though, and the chicken came out extremely well, with very juicy meat and crispy skin. I used a combination of sweet smoked Spanish paprika and hot Hungarian paprika because that’s what I had on hand. This is a relatively easy way to get a very tasty result in less than 90 minutes. The potatoes weren’t memorable, but weren’t bad either.
Roast Chicken with Spanish Paprika and Herb-Roasted Potatoes
Start this early in the day or the night before. Chilling the chicken uncovered for several hours makes the skin crispy when roasted.
1 (4-5 lb) roasting chicken
4 large sprigs fresh thyme plus 1 T chopped fresh thyme
1 T coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked Spanish paprika* divided
4 Yukon Gold potatoes (cut into quarters, approx. 1-1.5″ in diameter)
2 T plus 1 tsp olive oil
*Sometimes called hot Pimentón de La Vera; available at some supermarkets and at tienda.com.
Butterfly the chicken. Tuck wing tips behind shoulder. Transfer to large rimmed baking sheet. Using fingertips, separate skin from chicken over breasts and thighs. Insert 1 thyme sprig between skin and flesh over each breast and each thigh. Mix coarse kosher salt and 1 teaspoon paprika in small bowl. Sprinkle all over chicken. Transfer uncovered chicken, skin side up, to refrigerator; chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place potatoes in 11x7x2-inch baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon paprika and chopped thyme. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss. Drizzle chicken with 2 teaspoons oil. Place chicken and potatoes in oven; roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, about 1 hour. Let chickens rest 10 minutes. Cut chickens into breast, wing, thigh, and leg pieces. Transfer to platter. Drizzle some drippings over; serve. Makes 2 to 4 servings (plus leftovers).
Source: Adapted from Epicurious