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Spatchcocked Chicken with Chile Rub, Meyer Lemons, and Croutons

Spatchcocked Chicken with Chile Rub, Meyer Lemons and Croutons

Renée Robinson

Crisp Chunks of Bread Soak Up the Juices in this Traybake.

Roasted chickens show up regularly in my kitchen. I have never grown tired of them and I never will. They are pure comfort food and nothing smells better than a chicken roasting away in the oven. I sometimes leave it whole and intact and other times I spatchcock it as I’ve done here. It just depends on my mood. But one thing never changes. Ever since Samin Nosrat published her Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken in her cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, I’ve never looked back. 

It doesn’t matter what else I’m adding to the seasoning, I stick to the basics – one chicken in a ziplock bag with 2 cups buttermilk and 2 tablespoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Let it sit overnight. I’ve sometimes added aromatics, herbs, and spices to the brine, or just left it as is. It produces a juicy and flavorful bird every time. 

Marinating Chicken

For this recipe, I added a dry rub after removing the chicken from the salted buttermilk brine. My son and I put our heads together and came up with a combination of chile powder, paprika, ground celery and cumin seeds, plus a little muscovado sugar, among other things. You’ll notice a couple of unusual ingredients in the rub. The first is anardana seeds. I recently tasted these for the first time and was surprised at their flavor. These are the dried seeds from a pomegranate and are sweet, tart and brightly flavored. I find them delightful. They’re used extensively in Indian and Iranian cuisine, but when my son suggested adding them to this rub, I heartily agreed. 

While the next ingredient isn’t really unusual, I don’t recall seeing it used in this way. We ground up a tablespoon of unsweetened toasted coconut and mixed it into the rub. The slightly sweet, but warm flavor rounded out the flavors of the other spices and I felt the spice blend was now ready to go. 

I love adding pieces of bread to the pan when roasting a chicken. In this case I sat the chicken on top of some of the bread pieces so they would soak up those glorious chicken juices. I then added the rest to the pan halfway through the roasting time, giving them the time they needed to get good and crisp. A few Fresno chiles and some halved Meyer lemons added brightness to the mix.

With a chicken this large – 4 1/2 to 5 pounds – we eat the dark meat and wings on the first night and are left with the breast meat to enjoy at another time. You will notice I don’t snip off the wing tips as is recommended by many chefs and cooks. Those crispy tips are some of my favorite parts of the chicken to eat. I don’t know what’s better, a bite of the chicken or one of those crispy croutons soaked in the juices from the chicken with a squeeze of roasted Meyer lemon. This meal will always be near the top of my list. 

Spatchcocked Chicken with Chile Rub, Meyer Lemons, and Croutons

Recipe by Renée Robinson



Chile Rubbed Chicken is Roasted with Pieces of Crusty Bread, Meyer Lemons and Chilies.

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  • Spice Rub Ingredients
  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle chile powder

  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle chile flakes

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds, toasted and finely ground

  • 1 teaspoon anardana seeds, toasted and finely ground

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and finely ground

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted and finely ground

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground

  • 1 teaspoon muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar

  • Chicken Traybake Ingredients
  • 4 1/2 - 5 pound whole chicken

  • 2 cups buttermilk

  • 2 tablespoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

  • 3/4 pound loaf of crusty bread, torn into large bite sized pieces, divided

  • 3 Fresno chiles, slit down the center, but not cutting all the way through

  • 3 Meyer lemons, sliced in half

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • Aleppo pepper


  • The day before, put the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt in a one gallon plastic bag. Add the chicken and let sit overnight. To easily spatchcock the chicken, place it breast side down on a cutting board. Using poultry shears, remove the backbone by cutting up each side of it. Turn the chicken over and using the palm of your hand, press down on the top of the breast in order the flatten it as much as possible.
  • The next day preheat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack in the center. Place 7 oz. of the bread pieces in the center of a half sheet pan. Sprinkle the spice rub all over both sides of the chicken. Place the chicken skin side up on top of the bread pieces. Add the lemon halves to the pan, cut sides up. Drizzle chicken and lemons with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the oven. Add the remainder of the bread and the chiles to the pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and Aleppo pepper. Return to the oven and bake for additional 25 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes or so before carving and serving. Enjoy!

11 Responses

  1. Wow! This will be my first spatchcock! Chicken is my absolute favorite food! Anxious to do the buttermilk brine. I will most definitely use it for all my chicken going forward! Thanks 😊

    1. I have a feeling something is not right here. My message says this is coming from Sherie Robins, but I have a feeling that’s not the case. Am I right?

        1. I knew it wasn’t you and I’m working on figuring out who it actually is. Lol! Thank you, Sherie!

  2. Made this last night. We absolutely loved it so much! Because it’s just the two of us, we split the spatchcocked chicken in half so I’ve got another half in the frig for tonight. We were going to grill it but Matt is angling for us to do a repeat. Yes, it was that delicious.

    1. I love this so much!!! And what a good idea to hold off on the other half of the chicken. Although I’d probably just cook the whole thing and say, “Here are the leftovers. Enjoy!” 😅

  3. I didn’t have the same spices so I modified them a bit, and Carl would look askance at whole chilis (though he did not guess at the zippy spice I tossed on the chook and the bread!) but otherwise I kept to the recipe and we had this for supper the other night. Unbelievably delicious! The chicken was so juicy – I do not know why I have waited so long to try Samin’s method but am glad I now have, thanks to you! There may have been fights over the croutons. I will not elaborate. I had some really nice tomatoes and cucumber and made a simple salad of them and some red peppers, with a punchy dijon-forward vinaigrette, and the croutons with that made for the best panzanella ever. Thank you Renee!

  4. This looks absolutely amazing Renee. You know me. I don’t cook much. I don’t enjoy it anymore but this is tempting. I will let you know how I do.

    1. Christina, the great part is you have plenty of leftovers. So there’s no need to cook for a couple of days after you make this. Lol! I’d love it if you made this. And of course, I want to hear all about it.❤️

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