Split roasting chicken has a lot of benefits: you're guaranteed to get perfectly crispy skin, your cooking time is reduced, and the direct contact that browns the bones releases a ton of flavour. This is a recipe I shared during during the inaugural Provence tour this year.
In the south of France you see a lot of North African culinary influence. Here, preserved lemons are finely chopped and stuffed under the skin (with a bunch of garlic) for a bright burst of flavour. If you happen to have a wood fired oven accessible, this is a great recipe to take advantage of the super high temperature and slight smokiness.
1 medium chicken, trimmed of excess fat, rinsed and dried
1/2 preserved lemon, flesh and white pith removed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 500.
Split the chicken by cutting down either side of the backbone and removing it. Lay the chicken out on a board and push it down to get it as flat as possible.
Finely chop the preserved lemon and mix with thyme and garlic.
Gently pull up on the skin to loosen in and push in the herb mixture, trying to get it all over. Rub olive oil all over the skin and season generously with salt and pepper.
Heat an oven proof skillet over medium high with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Start cooking the chicken skin-side down in the skillet for about 5 minutes. Weigh the chicken down with another skillet or bricks wrapped in aluminum foil.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and continue cooking for 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and put the bricks to the side. At this point flip the chicken skin-side up and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. If your chicken is on the larger side it may take an additional 5-10 minutes. The juices will run clear when it’s done.
Allow to rest on a cutting board, covered with foil, for 5-10 minutes so that the connective tissues may relax.