With the temperature comfortably rising into the 70s and the sun dominating blue skies, it finally felt like Spring today.
Bunches of perky daffodils and perfumed cobalt hyacinths clustered together outside like excited and chatty schoolgirls. The magnolias proudly showed off their large, curvy flowers. With their parasols of delicate pink blossoms, the dogwoods reposed demurely in the dappled shade. Ah, the beauty of Spring.
Eager to enjoy the warm weather and colorful display of flowers, we brushed off the picnic table, put down a French Provencal tablecloth, and set it for the first outdoor meal of the season: a crispy, juicy chicken, butterflied (or "spatchcocked"), and grilled on the Big Green Egg, a vibrant pesto pasta salad with cheery grape tomatoes, and a fresh and perfectly balanced Caesar salad which Aggie Goodman shared on her blog, Aggie's Kitchen.
After we ate, we hit the beach where the kids searched for steamer clams and dared each other to enter the cold waters, still frosty from the winter season. I reclined on a beach chair and read a cookbook. A perfect day.
Roaster chicken, 5-6 pounds
Salt and pepper
Your favorite seasonings (for example, BBQ, Cajun, Mrs. Dash, Italian seasoning, paprika ... whatever you like)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbs. of butter, softened
Cut the backbone out of the chicken with kitchen shears or a knife. Turn it over and flatten it, so that it will lay flat. Gently slide your finger under the skin, loosening it from the breast and thigh meat, so that you can slip the compound butter in.
If you have thought ahead, you can stick the bird, uncovered, in the fridge, overnight. This will make for crispier skin.
Mix garlic with softened butter and a little olive oil. Distribute the butter mixture underneath the skin and on the outside of the bird, massaging the butter as much as possible into the nooks and crannies of the bird. If you need a little more, just rub the bird with a little more olive oil.
Season the bird, both sides, and in and around the wings, by sprinkling it generously with salt. Add pepper and other seasonings of your choosing. For this chicken, I put a good amount of paprika and Mrs. Dash, in addition to the salt and pepper.
Heat the Big Green Egg or grill to 350 degrees. Cook skin side down for 20 minutes (direct heat in the Egg; if you're using a grill, you can start on direct heat and if it starts burning or browning too fast, put it on indirect heat). Flip over bird and cook another 30-40 minutes or until center of breast reaches 160 degrees. I always use a thermometer, which makes for easy and accurate cooking.
If you're using an Egg, remember to keep the lid closed as much as possible. Don't keep opening and closing it, as the greatest benefit of the Egg lies in its shape and its ability to cook evenly and maintain consistent temperatures when it is closed.
When the chicken is done, let it rest for ten minutes, then carve and serve. Enjoy!
CREDITS: Magnolia photo from http://images.easyart.com/i/prints/rw/lg/5/3/Botanica-Magnolia-53886.jpg and dogwood photo from http://www.crimsoncanopy.com/harvardyard/dogwood%20flowering%201.jpg.