Butterflied Chicken with Lemons

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 4

Butterflying a chicken is easy with a pair of poultry shears or sturdy kitchen scissors. Just cut along each side of the backbone to remove it, turn the chicken over and push down on the bird until the sternum breaks and the bird is flattened. You can have your butcher do this for you if you prefer.


  • 1 whole chicken, about 4 lb. (2 kg), butterflied
  • 1⁄4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 garlic cloves


Preheat an oven to 450°F (230°C).

If the giblets are in the chicken cavity, remove them and reserve for another use or discard. Lay the chicken skin side up in a roasting pan large enough to hold it comfortably. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and fennel seeds. Rub the chicken all over with the oil mixture. Squeeze 1 lemon half over the chicken and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper. Cut the remaining lemon half into small pieces and sprinkle them over and around the chicken along with the garlic cloves.

Roast the chicken for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400°F (200°C) and roast until the skin is browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh away from the bone registers 170°F (77°C), about 40 minutes longer. Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes.

To serve, using clean poultry shears or a chef’s knife, cut the chicken into 10 serving pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings and 4 breast pieces). Transfer to a warmed serving platter and spoon the pan juices, including the garlic and lemon pieces, over the chicken. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Year-Round Roasting (Weldon Owen, 2011)

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