Crispy Whole Chicken and Vegetables
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 lb)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Montreal chicken seasoning
1 1/2 lb baby (B-size) red potatoes, quartered
1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. Heat oven to 400F. Place chicken, breast side down, on cutting board. Using heavy-duty kitchen scissors or poultry shears, cut closely along one side of backbone from thigh end to neck. Repeat on other side. Remove backbone, and discard. Turn chicken over so breast side is up; press down to flatten breast area by pressing firmly with heel of hand. Rub chicken with 1 tablespoon of the oil.
2. Heat 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot; place chicken breast side down. Season side facing up with 1 tablespoon chicken seasoning; top with 10-inch heavy skillet to weigh down. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until skin is golden brown. Remove smaller skillet, and transfer chicken to plate.
3. In medium bowl, toss potatoes, onion, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the thyme, salt and pepper until mixed well. Arrange vegetable mixture in single layer in the 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Place chicken, breast side up, on vegetables, and sprinkle top with remaining 1 tablespoon chicken seasoning.
4. Roast uncovered 45 to 55 minutes or until juice of chicken is clear when thickest pieces are cut to bone (at least 165° F), and vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Garnish with additional thyme leaves, if desired.
Use caution when removing skillet from oven by using two heavy ovenproof mitts. The skillet (and handle) will be very hot.
Be sure to buy a chicken that's between 3 and 3 1/2 lb. Anything larger may not fit inside the skillet.
Cast-iron skillets are great because of their heavy weight and their ability to retain heat. If you don't own two heavy skillets, try a weighted smaller skillet, or wrap bricks in foil, and use in place of a skillet.