Nothing's simpler, easier, or more perfect than a dinner of a whole chicken, roasted in your oven. So they say.
I have to say, it took me years to figure out how to roast a chicken. I followed every no-fail recipe out there — from Martha to Ina to Alton to Jacques — and they all failed me, time and time again. I followed their instructions on temperature, trussing, stuffing, basting, and roasting time, and yet I always ended up with a sad little chicken with an assortment of over- and underdone parts. Profanity, flying objects, sulking, hair-pulling (my own, thankfully), and oaths to never again touch a frickin' chicken usually ensued. That is, until I discovered butterflying.
I'm not sure what possessed me to try this one Cook's Illustrated recipe (oh yeah, must have been the word "crisp-skin"), but by the time it found its way to my counter, I was definitely questioning my abilities as a cook. So I sighed resignedly, just knowing that defeat rested on the other side of my oven door. And then the shock of my life (OK, perhaps the third greatest behind my husband's marriage proposal and finding out I was being joined by my first and only sibling when I was 12): it was P-E-R-F-E-C-T.
Aside from needing to hack the backbone out of the poor bird and break its little birdie breastbone, it was quite simple, provided I gave myself enough time for the brining and the roasting. It's also much easier to break down into parts for serving when it's flattened out like an open book. So now I pass my no-fail roast chicken recipe on to you, in the hope that it can save you from a patchy scalp and mouthful of soap. For the recipe, read on.