A few years ago, my cousin Connie sent me an email asking for family recipes to include in a cookbook she was compiling. They didn’t have to be originals but they did have to be family favorites. Among those I sent her was Nigella Lawson’s Butterflied (Spatchcocked) Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary because it is one of my go-to dishes both for company (because it can be prepared ahead and can just be stuffed in the oven when the guests are arriving) and even for weekday dinners (for the same make ahead reason.)
When it is just us, there are hardly any leftovers because I do one whole chicken with a couple of breasts (preferably on the bone for flavor) tucked in the pan extra. When we have guests, my congenital Cajun defect will not allow me to only cook how much I think people can reasonably eat; I have to cook more than enough. So, then, sometimes there are leftovers.
In the past, the leftovers have languished in the fridge, possibly being nibbled on as cold chicken, re-warmed chicken or even made into chicken salad. Inevitably, I end up throwing some away. The last time we had leftovers, I did something different. I took all the chicken off the bones, discarded the lemon rinds, deglazed the pan and tipped the whole rest of the dish, including the pan juices, into a freezer bag and then popped it into the freezer. My plan: Rosemary Lemon Chicken Stroganoff (although I hadn’t actually named it yet) to serve over pasta.
So I guess I have to start with the original dish before you can have leftovers. Try this and you will add it to your family favorites as well. (Update: Finally got around to writing up the original recipe with photos. Have a look here.)
Butterflied Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary
Created by Nigella Lawson
Makes 4–6 servings
Simple and savory, this recipe is great for a busy family or those who just don't like to fuss over dinner.
Serve with chicken stock couscous to which one drained and rinsed can of chickpeas has been added, and a green salad. Very easy to marinate ahead and then you can enjoy your guests while the chicken bakes.
1 butterflied chicken (Cut up the backbone and spread the chicken out. Or leave completely whole if you need to cook more than one in the pan and your oven is small.) (Approx. 3 1/2 to 4 lbs)
3 long sprigs fresh rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon, with more lemons to serve
1 red onion
6 tablespoons olive oil
Maldon or other sea salt I put freshly ground black pepper as well.
(If roasting more than one chicken, multiply other ingredients as appropriate.)
Put chicken into a large freezer bag. Pull the waxily aromatic needles off two of the sprigs of rosemary and drop them on top.
Cut a lemon in half and squeeze juice into the bag, chucking the rinds in the bag afterwards, too. Add the purple onion cut into quarters. I put the salt and pepper in at this point too. Pour in olive oil and then tie bag. (Or vacuum seal, if possible.) Give it a good squeeze around the edges before setting in the refrigerator.
Marinate chicken for a couple of hours, or overnight—even a couple of days. I do this step on the day I bring the chicken home from the store and have a little extra time. I throw it in the freezer and pull it out on the day I am going to cook it. If anything, it tastes more delicious because it marinates as it freezes and as it thaws! If you don’t have a Ziploc bag large enough, cut the chicken all the way through so you have two halves. This will fit snugly in a one-gallon Ziploc. I have also made it with breast, on the bone or off. Just adjust the cooking time since only breasts cook faster, especially the boneless ones.
Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Once chicken is at room temperature, lay chicken (skin side up) along with lemon rinds and onion pieces, on a foil-lined pan. Add remaining sprig of rosemary torn into a few pieces and tuck into leg and breast of chicken.
Cook for 45 minutes. The chicken should now be crisp-skinned and tender within. Take the pan out and cut chicken into four pieces. Arrange on a plate along with onion bits.
Pour over any syrupy golden juices from the pan and sprinkle generously with sea salt, if you haven’t already added it to the marinade. Cut a lemon or two into quarters and scatter these clumpily about the chicken.
Enjoy! Now on to the leftovers.
Rosemary Lemon Chicken Stroganoff
Leftover chicken with lemon and rosemary – deboned, lemon discarded, plus juices from the deglazed pan. I had about a pound of stuff altogether.
2 heaping tablespoons of Greek yogurt
1/4 cup full cream
1 tablespoon corn flour or starch (and a little more cream to dissolve it in)
Remove the bag from the freezer and thaw. I cut the bag apart and popped the whole frozen lump into a pan with a lid and covered, over a low heat. Once it was thawed enough, removed the lump from the pan and chopped the meat on a cutting board. In retrospect, I surely should have chopped my chicken up before I froze it. Live and learn.
Return the chicken to the pot and add the yogurt and cream.
Turn the heat way down because you don’t want it boil. Dissolve the corn starch in a little more cream and add it to the pot. Cook slowly for just a couple of minutes until it thickens. Grind in a little more fresh black pepper. That is it! The yogurt adds a little more tartness to the already present lemon flavor and it is delicious. Serve over the pasta of your choice (my choice is almost invariably linguine) with a side dish of, perhaps, steamed broccoli.