The First Chicken

It's time to make an admission: I've never cooked a whole chicken. Bits and pieces, yes, but a whole chicken in the oven? No. There was something that scared me about doing it. Would it take forever to cook? Would I just dry the thing out? And besides, my ghetto grocery up the street sells rotisserie chickens for very little scratch. Sure, they're kind of scary, but when you're on a budget, sometimes you settle...

But a few months ago I caught an episode of one of Jacques Pepin's shows in which he cooked a butterflied chicken. It seemed easy, quick, and delicious. I've had the recipe on my computer desktop since then, and this week I finally bit the bullet. Of course, I didn't follow his recipe completely (it is me, after all), but the basic cooking process is his. It turned out pretty well, I must say, though next time I'm going to get crazy inventive with the spices...

Quick Roasted Chicken
• 1 whole chicken, about 3 lbs., butterflied
• 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
• 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 tbsp. herbes de Provence
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Make a paste from the garlic, mustard, olive oil, herbs, salt, and pepper. Smear half of the mixture over the open side of the chicken, then place the bird, skin side up, in an ovenproof skillet (I used my cast iron). Smear the rest of the bird with the remaining paste. Cook on top of the stove, on high heat, for five minutes, then place everything--skillet and all--in the oven for 30 minutes more. Check to make sure it's done, then allow to rest in the skillet for a few minutes. Serve (I had the nicely-crunchy wings with some roasted potatoes with truffle oil, which I baked in the oven at the same time as the chicken, stirring every 10 minutes.)

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