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Monday, October 29, 2012

Cast-Iron Seared Roast Chicken

I'm sitting here on my sofa literally stranded on an island in the middle of a hurricane. The lights have flickered on and off a few times but so far it's just really windy, some dead tree branches are down, and I have two pots of water ready. Of course, Nick has been surfing already, will go again and is totally loving the storm.

Two things struck me when thinking about Sandy's approach. The first is what to eat. Our friend, who happens to share the love of food, mentioned this awesome chicken recipe. I tweaked it a bit but am totally sold. This is how I'm going to cook chicken from now on.

The second is how messy the beautiful fall island will look in a few days. All the blooms, many leaves, and branches will be flung around. A few day ago, Dylan and I took a very early morning walk down the dirt road behind our house. Here is what it looked like before mother nature came charging through.

Splayed Roast Chicken With Caramelized Leeks, Garlic and Capers:

Slightly adapted from the NY Times

1 4 1/2-pound whole chicken, patted dry, ours was from Morning Glory Farm
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 leek
1 lemon, quartered
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 tablespoon capers

1. Rub the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. If you’ve got time, do this 2 to 3 hours ahead and refrigerate the bird uncovered. Otherwise, let it rest uncovered at room temperature while the oven heats.
2. Place a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet in the oven and heat to 500 degrees for 45 minutes. If you salted the chicken in advance, take it out of the fridge so it can warm to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, prep the leeks: trim the tough dark green tops and roots off. Slice thin and soak in a large bowl of water to remove dirt. Drain.
4. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin connecting the legs to the body. Splay the thighs open until you feel the joint pop on each side. Place 2 lemon wedges inside the chicken.
5. Carefully transfer chicken, breast-side up, to the hot skillet. Press down on the legs so they rest flat on the bottom of the pan. Drizzle the bird with the oil. Roast for 30 minutes. Toss leeks, garlic and capers into the skillet. Stir to coat them with pan juices. Roast for 5 minutes more, then stir again. Continue cooking until leeks are tender and chicken is no longer pink, 5 to 15 minutes more (for a total cooking time of 40 to 50 minutes).
6. Remove chicken from oven and let chicken rest for 5 minutes, then serve with the pan juices and leeks, garlic and capers, seasoning everything with juice from the remaining lemon wedges, if desired.


  1. Beautiful chicken, sarah!
    i love this and going to prepare this one for my family.

  2. Thanks Amy I hope you try it - I still think it's the best cooking method I've found!


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