Use a cast iron skillet to roast a chicken to perfection, Italian devil-style, with garlic, red chili and butter.
I’ve been roasting lately, and this cast iron chicken is the latest good thing to come out of the oven. Sometimes I season a bird with grainy Dijon mustard mixed with some chopped tarragon, making sure to smear plenty of the mixture under the skin. Other times I keep it simple with just salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon. The skillet goes from stovetop to oven (and straight to the table, sometimes) which simplifies things even more.
You can easily find pre-seasoned cast iron pans now, but when I bought mine oh-so-many-years ago that wasn’t an option. Those pans are treasured tools in my kitchen for sure, with a patina that bears witness to half my lifetime of cooking. I’ve made everything from pancakes to frittatas to deep-dish pizzas in them, and when I was first learning to cook, my 10-inch pan was the only thing I cooked in aside from a pasta pot.
While waiting, and not very patiently, for spring to finally pop when I can get my hands on some fresh green things, the oven will be on.
This chicken is super juicy and just a little devilishly hot – be sure to let it rest before slicing. The warm juices are delicious over tender parsley sprigs, making a softly wilted salad you can serve with toasted crusty bread, pasta or couscous.
cast iron chicken diavola
Yield 4 servings
- 1 whole chicken 3 - 3 1/2 pounds, backbone removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons softened butter
- 1 tablespoon pressed garlic (3 - 4 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or rosemary
- 1 teaspoon crushed chili flakes, or to taste
- A few handfuls parsley sprigs, tough stems trimmed
- Pat chicken dry with paper towels and let it sit at room temperature for one hour.
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Combine olive oil, butter, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, chopped thyme and chili in a small bowl to make a creamy paste. Using your fingers, carefully loosen the skin on the breasts and rub some of the mixture in between; rub the remaining paste all over the chicken, including a bit in the cavity. Season the skin with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles and instantly evaporates. Put chicken in the pan, skin side down, and cook 10 minutes without moving it. The skin should start to turn golden brown - adjust the heat so the pan doesn't become too hot and burn the skin.
- Transfer chicken to the oven and roast 30 minutes. Carefully turn the chicken over and roast an additional 15 - 20 minutes, until the legs wiggle easily and juices run clear. Let chicken rest at least 10 minutes before carving. Serve on a platter on top of parsley.
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