spatchcocked skillet roasted chicken with tarragon
My recipe for this month Recipe Redux is Spatchcocked Chicken which I roasted in my grandmother’s cast-iron skillet. I made a simple tarragon pan sauce. (It’s gluten free.)
This month’s Recipe Redux is all about Treasured Cookware – Here is our challenge: Share a story of classic cookware – and a healthy recipe to go with it. Some of us will be celebrating Mother’s Day next month (May 11,) but it’s more than once a year that many of us cook with a pan, a wooden spoon or another piece of cookware passed on to us from the kitchens of our favorite relatives. Let’s see what you can cook up with your treasured kitchen tool!
I feel somewhat paralyzed with the thought of trying to write about my grandmother and the skillets I inherited from her. Talking about the skillets seems so insignificant compared to the impact she had on me. I have to be honest, it is not that she was an outstanding cook. But when you’re talking about someone who you loved and they are no longer here, things like skillets don’t matter at all. Or they matter a lot. I don’t know. My fingers hover above the keys.
I guess part of the reason it is hard to start talking about it is that I don’t want to sound crass when I talk about her. ‘Cuz Gramma Jane was not the squishy ooey gooey lovey dovey kind of grandmother you may conjure up in your imagination when I say I am about to describe how I inherited her heirloom skillets.
I guess the word I would use to describe her would be “curt.” No that’s not right, perhaps “no-nonsense.” Or better yet, she was “badass.” She had a pretty tough start at life, lost her parents when she was young. Was raised by her aunt. She married my Grandfather, who had all sorts of issues. Even through that, she managed to raise my dad and my uncle, and support her family by becoming one of the most successful realtors in Burlington. She had perfect taste, could do a mean needlepoint, and could always smell out a bargain, and drive a harder one. She was always thinking ahead, and planning and making sure her family was taken care of. Always.
So no, she was not all lovey dovey. But she did love me very much. And I always knew it.
She passed away eleven years ago shortly before Jase and I got married and moved into our house. The last time I spoke to her was on Easter about two weeks before she finally succumbed to the cancer that had consumed her body. I was at Jase’s parents house, and she was in Florida, in hospice care. She was in a shitty mood. I think she was just plain angry that she was dying. And she was doing everything she could to get off the phone with me. I think she didn’t want to be mean to me, but was just so grouchy she couldn’t deal with talking, so she just wanted to go. It is not really the way I want to think about her.
Even when she wasn’t sick, talking on the phone with her was tough. She had a really strong speech impediment that made it really hard for her to talk. In person it was easier to understand her. Even better was if she had a single sip of white wine. Then it magically disappeared. But that alone says so much about her. The fact that even with her speech difficulties she could be such a great realtor says a lot about her. Badass.
When we’d visit her, we’d pull up her driveway, and before we turned the corner and the house came into site you could hear the dogs barking. Into the house we’d go, and the poodles, yes poodles, would jump up on us. She would swat them with a kitchen towel, and shush them outside. I feel like every time we visited she was making some sort of roast. Roast ham, roast beef, roast pork, roast chicken. Her house always smelled of delicious roasting meat.
That’s all I can think of now when I think of her cooking. The smell of the roasting meat.
The summer after she died, my uncle and my dad sold her house, and before the new owners moved in, we all went through the absolutely bizarre and sad experience of going through her house and dividing up her stuff. Thankfully, in her last few years she had obsessively given away most of her belongings. So it could have been much worse. But it still was a long process. We started with the big items, like the dining room table and the couches. By the time we got to the boxes of doo dads in the basement, nobody could handle volunteering to take any of it.
You’d think I would have gone hog wild boxing up stuff in the kitchen. But really, I already had most of what I wanted for my kitchen, having been on my own for years, and gone through culinary school already.
But somehow I did end up bringing home her book of recipe cards. I love looking through them. Most of the recipes are handwritten ones that she had gotten from her friends. She was very meticulous about writing down who she had gotten the recipe from and on what date. There are a ton from newspapers and magazines too. There are so many truly hilarious old school gourmet recipes, like Crab Louis in an Avocado and something called “David’s Superb Casserole Saint Jaques” written out in her perfect Catholic school script. There are a lot of pork recipes. A lot.
I also took home her 1961 first edition of The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne. I already had my own much newer copy of it. It was the first cookbook I owned actually. But something about having her actual copy of that book meant so much more to me. The binding was loose, and since then has actually come loose, and become a sort-of bookmark.
The true gem in the kitchen was her set of cast iron skillets. My uncle said he didn’t need them, that he already had his own set that he babied. So I was the lucky duck who got to bring them home. I am not even sure that I knew how incredibly lucky I was to inherit these cast iron skillets. But now, it is so obvious to me. After cooking on them twice a day for breakfast and dinner for 11 years, I know how special they are. There are even companies now who specialize in selling old skillets.
So when I decided to write a recipe for the skillet that would be an homage to Gramma Jane I looked through her recipes, and the New York Times Cookbook for inspiration. I know she loved a good roast. After much deliberation, and discarding most ideas due to the fact that they were much too rich, I decided to make a simple roast chicken. I’ve wanted to share one with you all since I have had this blog, but have never done it, so I figured this would be the prefect opportunity.
I spatchcocked it. Because, well, that just sounds more badass, and now you know that’s more like my grandma…
I was inspired to add some tarragon to the recipe because there were several tarragon chicken recipes in her binder. And, I also added some butter, which I pretty much only use for baking. But all of the recipes I found of hers and even the ones in the NYT cookbook were so butter-lovin’ I figured it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t put a little in there. I kept it to 4 teaspoons though, because that’s about as much as I could handle 😉
This spatchcocked roasted chicken with a simple tarragon pan sauce is the perfect healthy Fall comfort food dinner. It’s gluten free, wheat free and low carb!!
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- zest and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon, divided
- 3 teaspoons chopped tarragon, divided
- ½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- 1 4-pound chicken
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon salted butter, divided
- 1 shallot
- ¼ cup dry sherry
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 425 convection.
- Sprinkle salt over the garlic and mash on a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife to form a coarse paste. Mix““` garlic and salt paste with lemon zest, 2 teaspoons tarragon and pepper in a small dish.
- Cut backbone out of chicken using sharp kitchen shears. Open cavity of chicken and score a vertical line along inside of breast bone, and bend chicken open further so that it lays flat.
- Rub chicken all over with the garlic and zest mixture. Lay chicken out flat, skin side up in a large heavy skillet or flame proof roasting pan. Transfer to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F, 55 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes. Remove chicken from the skillet and let rest on a carving board while you prepare the sauce.
- Pour off any fat from the skillet leaving juices behind. Place over medium-low heat (USE CAUTION HANDLE WILL BE HOT) Add 1 teaspoon butter to the skillet and allow to melt. Add shallot and cook, stirring until the shallot is browned, about 2 minutes. Add sherry and lemon juice and bring to a simmer, stirring up any browned bits from the skillet, over high heat. Simmer until the liquid is almost completely evaporated. Stir broth and cornstarch in a measuring cup and add to skillet stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, stirring. Cook, stirring , until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in any accumulated juices from the carving board, the remaining 1 teaspoon tarragon and the remaining 1 teaspoon butter until the butter is completely melted into the sauce.
- Remove chicken legs from the breast at the joint with a sharp knife. Remove chicken wings. Serve chicken with the tarragon sauce.
- Serving Size: 3 1/2 ounces chicken each
- Calories: 378
- Sugar: 1 g
- Sodium: 1105 mg
- Fat: 13 g
- Saturated Fat: 3 g
- Carbohydrates: 3 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 59 g