Mombacho Café Roast Chicken

Roasting a whole chicken can be the best way to start your week. For two people, one chicken can easily stretch into two or more meals, saving you money and time, not to mention, leaving you with a carcass that can be slow-simmered with aromatics to create a great stock to freeze and use later. I recommend using a dry brine, but a wet brine or brine injection also works well. Brining your bird the day before, or at least 2 hours in advance, is key. With a dry brine, the result will be juicy and incredibly flavorful meat. Everyone has preferences when it comes to a roast chicken, some like crispy skin, some enjoy a nice spice crust from a dry rub, some prefer sticky and flavorful skin from a marinade while some enjoy a nice charred bird. I usually opt for a simple salt and pepper roast chicken with crispy skin or an occasional dry-rubbed bird. Not very often do I marinate my chicken until I tried this recipe. This won’t give you as crispy skin as a dry roasted bird since the liquid has to evaporate before it caramelizes but you will get some charred parts from the sugar content and incredibly flavorful dinner. I don’t marinate the chicken for very long since we dry brine the day before, this is more of a sauce that glazes the bird as it cooks. The key to this flavorful marinade is the Mombacho Café cooking base. We slowly cook the aromatics and spices in oil to create a sofrito that can be the base for many dishes.

 

Spatchcock Method

 

The name itself sounds advanced and technical, but even a novice cook can perfectly spatchcock a bird. The final result is a butterflied bird that will cook evenly and much more quickly than its whole counterpart.

 

Place your whole bird, breast side down, on a cutting board (on a clean towel to prevent slippage). With kitchen shears or scissors, cut along the side of the spine, right through the ribs until your bird splits open. Slice down the other side of the spine to remove the backbone. Turn it over, inner side down, open it up and flatten it out, pressing down on the breast bone to crack it. The breasts will now be in the middle of your chicken with the legs and thighs on the outer edges. (Don’t throw it out, but save it to add to the bones from your whole, cooked chicken to make a stock or a jus to eat with the chicken.) The thighs and legs in this orientation protect high heat from reaching the breast too soon, resulting in a perfectly cooked bird.

Ingredients

  • 1 air-chilled chicken 3lb, spatchcocked (see above)
  • Onions, garlic, root vegetables, etc (optional)
  • Serve with tortillas, salsa, and limes if desired
  • Marinade:
  • 2 cups Mombacho Café Bacon Sofrito (or see bottom of page)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.25 cups orange juice
  • 2 tsp Pimentón de la Vera: Spanish smoked paprika
  • 3 Tbsp of honey
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Steps

  1. Dry brine the chicken: Season the chicken with a generous amount of salt. Make sure to get under the skin and all over and leave uncovered in the refrigerator overnight, preferably on a wire rack over a sheet pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 °F, preferably convection.
  3. Pureé all of the marinade ingredients until smooth and season with salt to taste.
  4. Pour marinade all over the chicken making sure to rub some marinade under the skin. You can leave the chicken in the marinade anywhere from 30 min — 2 hours at room temperature to temper.
  5. Place onions, garlic, and root vegetables on a sheet pan if using and place the chicken on top. You can also roast the chicken directly on the wire rack on the sheet pan. Place the breasts face the oven door so the legs get stronger heat in the back of the oven.
  6. Roast 15–20 minutes per pound until the thickest part of the breast reaches 150 °F and the legs and thighs reach 165 °F. About 1 hour for a 3 lb bird. Make sure to check the chicken every 15–30 minutes to make sure it is cooking evenly. Adjust temperature between 400–450 °F if necessary.
  7. Let the chicken rest at least 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Things to remember

  • Buy Free Range and Air Chilled.
  • Use the Spatchcock Method for even and quick cooking.
  • Keep the backbone for use in stock and a quick au jus.
  • Roast at 400–450 °F depending on the oven (turn it down if it browns too quickly).
  • Roast 15–20 minutes per pound until the thickest part of the breast reaches 150 °F and the legs and thighs reach 165 °F
  • Place root vegetables (potatoes, turnips, parsnips…), mushrooms, chopped onion under the rack to soak up those juices.
  • Best flavors and results come from dry brining overnight.
  • Tempering is when you leave the meat at room temperature to raise the internal temperature of the meat before cooking. This helps with even cooking. The larger the piece of meat the longer it will need to temper.