I’m IN LOVE with this deboned whole chicken recipe. It’s literally everything I crave in a chicken entrée- flavorful, golden skin and juicy, tender meat wrapped around a thin layer of salty prosciutto that’s cradling a savory spinach, mushroom & gruyere filling.
Every. Single. Bite is bursting with flavor.
It also doesn’t hurt that Eric told me it’s the best chicken he’s ever eaten. Swoon 🙂
This is my favorite kind of recipe for when we have company. In addition to tasting amazing and looking beautiful, there’s no last minute prep. You can roll and tie it earlier in the day, and once it’s seared you just slide it in the oven and let it do it’s thing.
I LOVE cooking, but when I have friends over I want to feel relaxed. I want to be sipping a glass of wine and enjoying their company. It’s hard to do that when I’m thinking about timing and a lot of last minute details, so the more I can make ahead the better!
So, why would you want to debone a whole chicken?
Deboning a whole chicken has many benefits:
- Flavor- with more surface area available to season, you’re able to get more intense flavor into every bite
- Even cooking- once boned, the meat is all a similar thickness. This means the white and dark meat will cook evenly
- It speeds up the cooking time, which keeps the meat juicy and succulent
- No bones means slicing and serving is a breeze
- The thrill of a good challenge! When you’re all finished you will have accomplished something not a lot of home cooks can do!
- It’s cost effective! When you buy a whole chicken and debone it yourself it’s much less expensive than having the butcher do it for you. *However, there’s no shame in buying one already prepped!
- You can use those bones to make delicious stock (win-win!)
This could become your new obsession
It’s definitely become mine! Since making this version my mind has already gone in so many different directions with all of the flavor combinations I want to try next. Think about the possibilities…
- caprese stuffed chicken?
- spinach and artichoke stuffed chicken?
- bacon, cheddar BBQ stuffed chicken?
- chicken cordon blue?
UPDATE– between creating this recipe and finishing this blog post I’ve already made two of the above and they’re winners (coming soon)!
Spatchcock, Butterfly & Debone…What’s the difference?
I tend to nerd-out on research when I learn something new and my deboning obsession has been no different. It seems some of these terms are used interchangably depending on who you listen to. Here’s what I’ve deducted:
- Spatchcocking, which I’ve been doing for years, is removing the backbone of a bird and pressing down on the breastbone so that the whole bird lays flat
- Butterflying gets a little fuzzy. It’s sometimes the exact same thing as spatchcocking. It can also refer to a spatchcocked bird that has had it’s breastbones and thigh bones removed, leaving the drum and possibly the first wing joint intact to keep some of the structure. Often, the bird is separated into two halves. It can also mean slicing partially through any thicker cut of meat so that you’re able to open it like a book.
- A deboned (or boned) whole chicken has had all of it’s bones removed and can be opened flat like a spatchcocked bird. If you have crazy mad butcher skills this can also be done leaving the bird completely intact (and if you do this I want to hear about it!)
Last April I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a video that stopped me in my tracks. It was a close up of a fork scraping the crispiest, most golden piece of chicken I’d ever seen. It wasn’t the image so much as the SOUND the fork was making as it scraped over the skin that got my attention. THAT was my introduction to Mandy Lee and her blog, Lady and Pups. Within in an hour of landing on her site, I’d ordered her book and printed 3 recipes I needed to make asap. One of them was her perfectly butterflied & crispy skillet chicken (which you should also make). And it was awesome – totally worth the stove top cleaning of it’s aftermath.
That was the first time I’d deboned a whole chicken (which, it turns out, I actually wasn’t supposed to do). In her recipe you end up with two halves and leave the bone in the drumstick to hold it’s shape. I somehow missed that part and deboned the entire thing. It was a happy accident, really 🙂
How To Prepare a Deboned Whole Chicken
If you’ve never done it, deboning a whole chicken probably sounds a little intimidating. If you have a sharp knife and some patience you’ll find that it’s really not. The first couple of times I used kitchen shears and a paring knife and then, for my birthday, Hannah gave me a beautiful boning knife that I absolutely LOVE! So, you can use whatever you’re comfortable with, just make sure it’s sharp.
I attempted to make a video to show you how to debone a whole chicken, but the picture quality was not good. AND I cut myself trying to get the angle right for the camera LOL. Obviously, my tech skills need some work! So, while I’m working on my own injury-free-tutorial, I’m going to send you to one of the videos I learned from. Kudos to The Tattooed Butcher for creating this great video on how to debone a whole chicken. The only thing I do differently is cut the legs open so that they lay flat, too (see image, below).
You don’t have to do it yourself!
If you don’t want to attempt deboning a chicken on your own, you can call your butcher and ask them to do it for you. If you happen to be local to Medina, Ohio, one of my favorite places, Keller Meats at The Exchange Market often carries deboned whole chicken in their case. They call them “grillers”, just call ahead to make sure they’re in.
Don’t throw away the bones…make bone broth!
I keep a gallon sized zip lock bag in my freezer and throw all of my chicken bones in it. When it gets full I make bone broth. Bone broth is so good for you, can be used anywhere you’d normally use chicken broth, and is also great just warmed up and sipped on it’s own. You can make it in a pressure cooker, a crockpot or a stock pot on top of the stove. I use this method for my bone broth and usually add turmeric and a little fresh ginger.
Let’s talk filling
For this filling I wanted mostly vegetables and used a small amount of bread cubes to provide texture and body. I cut some leftover baguette into small cubes and toasted them on a baking sheet until they were completely dried out and crunchy. You can use any firm bread you have or buy bread cubes already prepped for stuffing (just make sure to get unseasoned).
Next sauté Sliced mushrooms (I used mixed wild mushrooms) and a chopped shallot until everything starts to soften. Stir in your chopped garlic just until fragrant and then add 5 ounces of baby spinach. Toss/stir this spinach mixture with tongs until the spinach is wilted. Add your toasted bread cubes, stir and season to taste with salt, pepper, thyme and red pepper flakes. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and just enough chicken stock to moisten (maybe 1/4 cup). Remove the mixture to a bowl and set it aside so that it cools, you don’t want to put warm stuffing in your chicken, especially if you’re not cooking it right away.
Time to assemble!
To assemble, layer several thin sheets of prosciutto over the seasoned chicken. This is something I also do when I make Beef Wellington. The prosciutto adds a wonderful salty flavor and is helpful in keeping the filling intact when you roll it all up.
Next, spread the cooled stuffing/mushroom mixture over the prosciutto, leaving a small border all around. Sprinkle with grated gruyere and dot with butter.
You’re going to gently roll the chicken around the stuffing into a cylinder, rolling from the side of the chicken so that the breast meat is all at one end and the thigh meat is all at the other. Use your hands to kind of tuck/push the prosciutto in around the stuffing on the ends to keep everything intact.
Tie your rolled roast with butcher twine so that it all stays together while you finish searing and roasting it. I’m always so impressed when I see professional butchers tie beautiful, perfect roasts! One day I might be that good but for now my tying skills do the job of holding everything together (even if they aren’t perfect)! Here’s a quick video showing how to tie a roast . Remember, cooking should be enjoyable and we’re all continually learning and improving. The goal here is to hold everything together so if yours isn’t picture perfect that’s ok!
It’s going to taste incredible anyway 🙂
Sear for color and roast to finish
Get a heavy, ovenproof pan nice and hot. I use cast iron. Melt some fat that can take high heat. Avocado oil or peanut oil are great choices, I used duck fat. Don’t use olive oil or butter because they’re likely to smoke. Sear your stuffed chicken, turning so that you get beautiful color on all sides. If you’re making more than one chicken, sear them one at a time or use two pans.
Once it’s nice and golden, throw a couple cloves of unpeeled, crushed garlic cloves into the pan along with some lemon slices and a few sprigs of fresh thyme if you have it. Add a little bit of stock or white wine to the drippings in the pan and put the whole thing in a 400 degree f oven and roast for about 45 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160. Remove the cooked chicken from your pan onto a cutting board and let it rest, covered with foil, for 10-15 minutes. The temperature will rise to 165 and the juices will redistribute throughout the meat during the rest time (it’s important to let it rest!).
Now you’re ready to slice and serve! I like to spoon some of the pan drippings over the sliced meat before serving.
What should you serve along side?
A simple salad or vegetable like green beans or roasted carrots is a perfect accompaniment. Maybe some mashed potatoes or gnocchi, too? I tend to be a two veggie one protein kind of girl, myself. Whatever makes you happy- DO THAT!
I’m so excited for you to taste your first bite…you’re going to love it!
- 1 whole chicken, deboned (about 3 1/2-4 lbs BEFORE boning)
- kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste
- 10 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1 shallot, chopped fine
- 5 oz fresh baby spinach
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup toasted bread cubes (see notes*)
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme or 2 tsp fresh thyme
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 4-5 thin slices prosciutto
- 1 cup gruyere, shredded
- 2 Tbsp butter
- kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste
- 3 unpeeld, smashed garlic cloves
- 1/2 lemon, sliced thin
- fresh thyme sprigs, optional
- 1/4 cup chicken stock or white wine
- Lay boneless chicken out flat and feel for any little pieces of bone or cartilage that might be left behind (remove if you find any). Season liberally with kosher salt and cracked pepper. Place in the refrigerator while you make the stuffing.
- Mise en place: Prep all ingredients and have them ready (see notes for toasting bread cubes if making your own)
- Heat 1 Tbsp of butter in a skillet until melted and sizzling. Add sliced mushrooms and shallots. Cook and stir for several minutes, until shallot is softened and mushrooms have released most of their liquid.
- Add minced garlic to your pan and stir just until garlic is fragrant (about 30 seconds).
- Add spinach to pan and, using tongs, toss/turn spinach with mushroom mixture until spinach is all wilted and most of it's liquid is evaporated.
- Add toasted bread cubes, stir, and season to taste with salt, pepper, thyme and red pepper flakes.
- Once everything is coated and seasoned add lemon juice and enough broth to just to moisten. Continue cooking and stirring 1 minute. You may need to add another Tbsp of broth if mixture gets dry.
- Remove filling to a bowl and set aside to cool.
- Lay chicken out flat, skin side down, on work surface and lay sliced prosciutto evenly over entire surface to cover, overlapping slices slightly
- Spread spinach/mushroom filling over prosciutto leaving 1/2-1" border all around
- Top spinach mixture with grated gruyere and dot with butter (use your fingers to pull butter apart into little pieces)
- Gently roll chicken up into a cylinder from the side (keeping breast meat at one end and thigh meat at the other. As you roll push/tuck prosciutto around filling on the open ends to keep everything inside.
- One your chicken is rolled, use butcher twine to tie roast to keep it's shape (see notes for link to video on tying a roast). Season all over with kosher salt and cracked pepper
- Melt 2 Tbsp of fat in a heavy, ovenproof skillet (I use cast iron) and sear meat on all sides, turning as each side gets golden.
- Once meat is completely seared, add smashed garlic cloves, lemon slices, fresh thyme sprigs (if using) and 1/4 cup chicken stock or white wine to juices in skillet.
- Place in a preheated 400 degree f oven and roast for approximately 45 minutes, or until internal temperature reads 160 f. (ovens vary, as do the size and starting temperature of your chicken, so go by internal temperature rather than strictly by time)
- Remove roast from pan and place on cutting board, covered with foil, to rest 10-15 minutes before slicing
- Smash garlic and lemon into pan juices, strain and spoon over sliced meat before serving, if desired