Butterflied Chicken

Roast chicken is something that I usually reserve for “special” occasions.  Like when we have company or I have more than 45 minutes from the time I walk in the door to get food in my belly.  But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Really, it doesn’t.

There’s no reason why Tuesday night dinner can’t be just as “special” as Sunday supper.  Of course, having guests at our table is special but so is any reason that gets us eating dinner at the dining room table and not in front of the Tivo.

I really think we need to institute a “no tv until after dinner” rule at our house.  I know it would cut down on the amount of food that somehow fails to make it from the plate to the mouth and ends up on the floor.  Of course, this would in no way impact the “breakfast is eaten in front of the tv” rule.  There’s no way I can balance my need for steel cut oatmeal and Good Morning American in HD separately.  They are a combined sport at BAH.

But I digress.  Want to enjoy roast chicken any night of the week?  Then I highly recommend you butterfly it.  Or, as I originally typed, flutterby it.  You could take it a step further and put a hot brick (wrapped in foil) or hot cast iron skillet on top of the chicken while it cooks.  Once you remove the backbone, a whole world of possibilities opens up to you.

Butterflied Chicken

Adapted from Jenna’s Everything Blog

BAH Note: I have to be honest, I had the man at the market cut the back out of the chicken for me.  Yes, he looked at me funny when I asked…I think he was worried I would want him to weigh the chicken without the backbone…but the chicken went into the back completely intact and came out spineless.  That backbone is currently sitting in my freezer waiting for me to try my hand at some chicken stock. I imagine a flattened chicken would be quite easy to brine for some extra moist meat.  Next time, I might give that a try.

  • 1 whole roasting chicken (not a fryer), approximately 3 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Remove the giblets from the chicken and place the chicken breast side down on a cutting board.  Carefully cut along one side of the backbone then along the other and remove the backbone.

Turn the chicken over and firmly press on the breastbone to break it and flatten the chicken.  Dry the chicken well with paper towels and transfer to the sheet pan.

Place the rosemary, garlic, and lemon under the chicken and coat the skin with olive oil.  Season generously with salt and pepper and roast for 45 minutes to an hour until the skin is golden brown and the meat registers 160 to 165 degrees.

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.

{printable recipe}

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

2011.  The year I turned 40.  Oh my.  The funny thing is that I’m writing this about a week before the actual birthday and it won’t post until well after the day has come and gone and I take my first few steps down the road towards that next big number.

40.  In my mind it doesn’t feel much different than 20 or 30.  Except maybe for the morning after a night with the box of wine.  Then I definitely feel it….damn liver ain’t what it used to be.  But then I start to think about other people I know and what marked their lives at the same age.

For instance, at age 40 my parents had children that were teenagers…closer to college age than the middle school years.  At 40, my grandparents had raised one child and were less than a decade away from beginning to raise two grandchildren.  At age 40, my father and both of my grandfathers had been to war and back.  I tell myself those were different times with different opportunities and expectations.

Could I see myself as the quintessential housewife as personified by Harriett Nelson?  Unlikely.  I’d more likely have been Lucy Ricardo on a good day or Betty Draper on a bad one.  Although I say that from the perspective of living in, and being shaped by, one age and wondering if that version of me would have fit in another age.

I can’t really imagine my life being different than what it is.  Sure, there are hopes that may never be realized but there are also things I never thought to hope for that have been part of my world.  I am not one to believe that the absence of something unknown is greater than the actual presence of something else.

So what is it exactly about the age 40 that strikes fear into the hearts of countless 39 year olds?  What is it that sends people into the first stages of mid life crisis and what symptoms should I be on the watch for to indicate that I’ve stepped into the danger zone?

While you ponder those mysteries of life, I’m going to make myself a batch of peanut butter and jelly bars.  It may not be a traditional treat to celebrate ones birthday but I think I’ve pretty much established over the last 40 years that I’m not exactly traditional.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2011

BAH Note: If it weren’t for the prevalence of peanut allergies, I would say these should be mandatory at all bake sales.  Imagine the best parts of a pb&j (without the pesky crusts) in one bite sized morsel.  If you ask The Googley about peanut butter and jelly bars, you’ll see that all the cool kids are making them.  Not that that’s a reason that you should. But you really should make them…you know you want to.

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup jelly

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and completely line an 8″ square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving an inch or two overhang around the edges.  Lightly spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the workbowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the peanut butter, brown sugar, and butter until smooth.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined.

Transfer half of the dough to the prepared baking pan and press it into an even layer.  Place the pan in the refrigerator.  Put the remaining dough in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator and spread the jelly over the base in an even layer.  Remove the dough from the freezer and use your fingers to crumble the dough over the jelly layer.

Bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Cool the bars completely in the pan before using the foil handles to remove the bars from the pan.  Peel the foil from the edges and cut into bars.

Store leftovers in an airtight container.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Stat

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 1/5/09 on Exit 51.


2008.  The year SFC successfully completed his second overseas deployment.  The year that I threw caution, and the dismal exchange rate, to the wind and had a fabulous tour of Scotland with my pal Frau Poshizzle.  The year that was many, many things.

It was also the year that I moved Exit 51 to WordPress.  And according to the Stats, it was also year that many of you found me here.  Exit 51 logged 1,353 views from May to December.  The top five posts of 2008 were:


#1 – Notes on a Recipe: Jacques Pepin’s Scallops Grenobolise.

This was one of my favorite recipes of the year.  If you haven’t already done so, you should check this out.  Really.

#2 – Num Yummy

Based on the search terms associated with this post, I think people were really looking for Mr. Num Yummy or the Num Yummy Guy.  But whatever.  Because I think this ode to caramel is a way better find.

#3 – Fast Food @ Home

Repeat after me – fast food doesn’t have to equal a super value meal.  And good food doesn’t have to mean reinventing the wheel.

#4 – Click! Coffee

My entry into the Click! monthly contest may not have won, but I couldn’t have asked for a better excuse to churn out the most excellent coffee ice cream you’ll ever have.  You can thank David Lebovitz for your eventual addiction to this ice cream.  And thank him you will!

#5 – I Can’t Believe It’s Not Mashed Potatoes

What I can’t believe is that I’m just now noticing the typo in that post’s title.  Oh well, hopefully you stop by here for the food, not the spelling.

My thanks to everyone who has paid me a visit in 2008.  Hope to see you back here in the coming year.