Yes to Yummy

Barbarian Chicken and Friends

April 4, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

There are a few dishes in this world that everyone should know how to cook. Roast chicken is definitely one of them.

You know the same old song. Throw the chicken and some veggies in a pan, maybe add a little oil or butter, and voila, you’ve got dinner. But that gets boring after a while, doesn’t it?

Set your doldrums aside and behold…the Barbarian Chicken.

It’s crispy. It’s juicy. And it’s really easy to make.

A special thanks to Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo for the inspiration!

About two hours before you want to eat, take out your bird. I used a four pound chicken that I got at my local butcher, but any size roaster will do. Just remember that cook time will vary accordingly.

Clear out the chicken’s cavity and pat it dry with a paper towel. 

Now comes the tricky part. With a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, make a cut along one side of the spine and keep going until you reach the base of the neck. Do the same thing on the other side.

When you’re done, remove the back bone. I recommend roasting it in the oven with the chicken for something to gnaw on later.

Push down both sides of the bird so it’s completely flat. Using a chef’s knife, make a small incision in the breast bone and open up the chicken so it’s completely flat.

Season this side of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Seriously, put more salt that you think it will need.

Flip the chicken over and brush the skin with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of melted fat—I used ghee, but you can use coconut oil, olive oil, butter, or even bacon grease. Sprinkle salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder on top and massage everything into the skin. (Don’t be a wuss! Get those hands dirty!)

Place the chicken skin-side up on a wire rack atop a tinfoil lined baking sheet. Let it sit for at least 45 minutes before putting it in the oven.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When you’re ready to roast, put the chicken on a middle or upper rack and bake until the breast registers 155 degrees and the thighs register between 170 and 175. (Mine took about 55 minutes)

Resist the urge to dig in right away and let the chicken sit for at least five minutes before quartering it up. Then, pick it up with your hands and chow down like no one’s watching.

This barbarian did not die alone. Oh no, he (or she?) was accompanied by Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed butternut squash.

Kiss your old memories of squishy, flavorless baby food goodbye.

This dish is a little time-consuming, so allow yourself ample time to create your masterpiece. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and halve a large butternut squash. Put it cut-side down on a tinfoil lined baking sheet, sprinkle the top with a little bit of water, and place in the oven.

Take a small head of garlic (or large, if you’re avoiding Edward Cullen) and peel off the papery exterior. Then, wrap the whole thing with tinfoil and stick it in the oven with the butternut squash.

Bake both for 50 minutes, until the garlic is soft and the squash begins to turn a light golden brown.

Immediately after removing it from the oven, flip over the butternut squash and let fully cool on a baking sheet. Unless you want to burn your hands off, do not work with hot squash.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Once at or near room temperature, scoop the squash’s flesh into a large food processor or blender. Squeeze in the roasted garlic pulp and puree on high until relatively smooth.

After that, add 2 tablespoons of coconut milk (the creamy stuff at the top, not the watery stuff at the bottom), 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, a good pinch of salt, and 2 teaspoons of your seasoning of choice. (I used Ras el Hanout, a Moroccan spice blend that contains cinnamon, coriander, cumin, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves.) 

Blend on high until everything is fully incorporated.

Before baking, add 1 lightly beaten large egg. I recommend stirring it in with a spatula, but it doesn’t make a huge difference either way.

Grease an oven-safe dish with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil, then pour in the squash mixture and even it out with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with a handful (approximately 1/4 of a cup) of chopped hazelnuts.

Bake until the edges begin to brown and small bubbles form around the edges, about 35 minutes.

I served my creations up with some sauteed portabella mushrooms. It was all delicious, and leftovers were happily enjoyed for lunch the next day.

So, how do you like to prepare roast chicken? Leave me a comment and let me know!