Tonight I made spatchcocked ricotta chicken and roasted mustard potatoes. I had leftover ricotta cheese from making lasagna last week and I didn't want to waste it. I browsed Pinterest to see what ricotta recipes are floating around the internet and I pinned this chicken recipe and a cheese cake recipe (which I'll try the next time I have leftover ricotta).
Spatchcock means to butterfly a chicken. Enter my new kitchen shears I got from my mother-in-law. Some people are grossed out by working with a raw, whole chicken but I rather enjoy it. It may sound weird, but I feel like I'm getting to know the food better by touching it all over. (There are lots of videos online if you want to see how to spatchcock a chicken.)
Spatchcocked Ricotta Chicken from the Kitchn (apartment therapy):
- 1 whole chicken, at least 3 1/2 pounds
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup finely chopped basil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Remove the innards from the chicken and reserve them for another use. Wash and pat dry the chicken.
- Spatchcock (aka butterfly) the chicken using poultry shears or a sharp chef's knife: first remove the backbone, slicing or cutting it along each side all the way down to the tail end. Splay the chicken open with the skin side up on a flat surface. Place the heel of your hands, one on top of the other, over the middle of the chicken. Press down to flatten the chicken. You may hear the breast-bone crack.
- Run your fingers under the skin at the neck opening to loosen the skin around the breasts, reaching as far down as the legs if possible.
- In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, egg, bread crumbs, basil, garlic, lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
- Using a spoon, carefully stuff the cheese mixture into the chicken between the skin and the meat, starting at the breasts. Coax the mixture into an even layer by pressing and pushing it from the outside, above the skin. Place the chicken on a rack, or several 1/2-inch-thick slices of onion, in a roasting pan, skin side up. Rub it with about a tablespoon olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Roast for an hour or until the juices run clear from the thigh. To test for doneness with a thermometer, check the breast meat for an internal temperature of 165°F. Transfer the chicken to a cutting surface and let stand for 5-10 minutes.
- To serve, divide the chicken into quarters, splitting the two breasts into four pieces if desired.
When you cut the chicken you can see there's a layer of ricotta cheese, which also paired rather nicely with the potatoes:
Roasted Mustard Potatoes from The High Heeled Hostess:
- 5 cups potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
- 1/2 cup Dijon mustard (regular or whole-grain)
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, rimmed, thin baking sheet with olive oil.
- Whisk mustard, olive oil, butter, lemon juice, zest garlic, oregano, parmesan, salt and a few turns or pinches of black pepper. Add cubed potatoes and toss well.
- Spread out on baking sheet and bake until crusty and golden brown - they can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on how well done you like them and how big you cut your potatoes, check every 10 minutes starting around the 30 minute mark.
Both are fairly easy recipes, although prepping the chicken is a bit time-consuming. The chicken came out moist and tender and the skin crisped up nicely. I probably had 1/4" layer of the ricotta mixture under the skin but the flavor wasn't overpowering; the nice thing about ricotta is that it's pretty mild and it melds well with the lemon, basil, and garlic (I always use one more clove of garlic than what the recipe calls for, so in this case I used 3 cloves, which I grated with a microplane grater). Although the dish was good, I'm not sure I would go out of my way to make it, meaning I would make it if I had leftover ricotta cheese but I wouldn't buy the ricotta just to make this. Maybe it's just too much work to prepare on a weeknight (especially once I go back to work)?
Here are some additional notes:
- Using the oven at 400 degrees+ in summer is not a good idea -- it makes the kitchen too hot!
- I didn't use all of the ricotta mixture, which would've been fine except that I thought I was going to use it all so I stuck the spatula back into the bowl after it touched the raw chicken. I ended up having to throw out a good amount of the mixture.
- I roasted the potatoes for about 30 minutes and they were great (Rupert said he could eat them all day long), but they could've used more time to crisp up.