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Arts & Culture

Found Recipe: Cast Iron Roasted Half Chicken

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

With help now, for a kitchen conundrum. Got chicken? Got two cast iron skillets? Feeling strong? If so we've got you and your chicken covered with this dish from our Found Recipe files.

JAY BENTLEY: Hi, my name is Jay Bentley. And I run a restaurant outside of Bozeman, Montana called the Mint Bar & Cafe. I'm here today actually to tell you about not necessarily a found recipe but a found technique. The great thing about this technique it's a good way to build your biceps.

BLOCK: That's because Bentley's technique involves stacking it two heavy and hot cast iron skillets - putting one into the other the better to sear a chicken with.

BENTLEY: See, I've always been a great lover of chicken, especially chicken with bones in it. I think bones are important. It kind of gives the chicken integrity. It's - you know, when you see chicken on most menus, it's skinless or it's just these dry kind of chicken-farm boneless breasts with no flavor.

And the reason it's dry is because most restaurants half cook it and then they'll put it in a walk-in. And then when somebody orders it, they'll finish cooking it. But by that time, all the - you know, it's dry. All the moisture's leached out of it. That's not the way chicken is really meant to be.

(MUSIC)

BENTLEY: So I used to toss and turn trying to think about that. And I came up with an idea that would produce a really juicy chicken cooked from scratch. I love cast-iron cooking. And there's a dish called Chicken Mattone, which is - which is quite good, where they take a chicken and cast iron and weight it down with a brick.

So what I decided to do was to pre-heat two cast-iron skillets in a very hot oven to 500 or more. And then after marinating these half chickens with bones in olive oil with some lemon, garlic and rosemary, you take the chicken and you put it down into one skillet, skin-side down, and put the other hot skillet on top of it, thereby cooking from both sides at once.

(MUSIC)

BENTLEY: In 20 to 25 minutes, you've got an absolutely perfectly cooked half chicken that's going to be juicy and super tasty. I think it's fabulous because it cooks in maybe half the time of the other method. And when it comes out, it's crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. And, you know, what more can you ask for chicken?

(MUSIC)

BLOCK: That's Montana restaurant owner Jay Bentley. He's co-author, along with Patrick Dillon, of the cookbook "Open Range: Steaks, Chops, And More from Big Sky Country." And if you want to give Bentley's technique a shot, you can find details on his cast-iron roasted half chicken on the Found Recipes page. That's at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.