Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spiced Chicken and Root Vegetables

The language of food can be a fun one.  It spans continents and cultures.  It can make you sound sophisticated.  It can also make you sound like an immature 12 year old boy.  At the top of my food vocabulary favorite list (right behind "fishmonger") is "spatchcocked."  Walk up to the meat counter at your local grocery store, ask for one of the whole chickens in the case... then ask the butcher to spatchcock it for you.  I can usually keep a straight face right up until the butcher does a double take and asks me what I just asked.  I quickly explain that a spatchcocked bird has the back cut out and the breast bone removed or broken (both of which can be reserved and used later for stock).  They slowly nod and prep my chicken.  Why do I ask the butcher to do it for me?  They have better knives and shears than I have... and I just have fun asking.

If your butcher doesn't cut meat/poultry to order, check out this guide on how to spatchcock your own bird.

Also, I decided to take this bird into previously uncharted territory (for me, at least) when it came to seasoning.  To satisfy a craving I've been having all winter, I dusted this bird with cinnamon and allspice.

Spiced Chicken and Root Vegetables

What you’ll need:

An oven preheated to 425 F
Kitchen shears (or a friendly butcher)
Meat thermometer/alarm
13”x9” casserole dish


A 3 to 4 lb whole chicken, “spatchcocked”
1 large sweet onion
5 or 6 parsnips, peeled
2 lbs of sweet potatoes
½ stick of butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Chop the sweet potatoes into 1-1 ½ inch chunks, the peeled parsnips into 1 inch segments and the onion into (what will fall apart into) 1-1 ½ inch pieces.  Mix the chopped sweet potatoes, parsnips and onion up and spread them out across the bottom of your casserole dish.  In a small bowl, combine and mix the cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper.   Lightly dust the vegetables with about 1/3 of the mixture.

Rub the spatchcocked chicken with the softened butter.  Use the rest of the spice mixture to evenly coat the buttered bird.  Lay the bird out, skin up, across the vegetable mixture in the casserole dish.  Insert the meat thermometer halfway into the thickest part of the breast.  Set the alarm to chime when the bird reaches 165 F.  Place the casserole dish into the preheated oven.

Things to note: (1) You don’t need to toss your vegetables in any type of fat/oil… as they will have plenty of chicken fat and drippings to cook in. (2) Cooking time will be less than it would if you were roasting a bird that still had all of its bones. (3) If you don’t have a meat thermometer/alarm, start checking your bird’s temperature every few minutes after the first 30 minutes... until it gets to 165 F.

In a 425 degree oven, the skin will brown nicely.  Crispy chicken skin is right up there with bacon.  Well, not that high up there.  But it's good.

Ladies and gentlemen, Spiced Chicken and Root Vegetables.


  1. Hi Andrew. This is Judy, David's mom. I'm starting my Primal journey and David shared your blog with me. Where do you find parsnips? I have a big HEB near me and could not find them there.

  2. HEBs usually have pretty decent produce sections. If they weren't out in bulk, they may be in 1 lb bags similar to carrots. Also try Central Market, Whole Foods... or your local farmers market.

    Parsnips passed "out of season" about a month ago... so they will be a little more difficult (but not impossible) to find until the fall.