Curtis Stone’s Bird to the Wise

Sick of the same old chicken recipes night after night? Curtis Stone serves up ideas that will make you fall in love all over again.

Skillet of roast chicken
Roasted Butterflied Chicken and Tomatillos (Quentin Bacon)

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Sitting down with family and friends with a meal you prepared is one of the simplest and greatest gifts you can give someone.

As a busy parent and chef, I know that balancing work and home life is no easy task. Despite the challenges, it’s still possible to serve budget-friendly, hassle-free, and healthy home-cooked meals.

America’s go-to protein, chicken is a dinnertime staple, but if you’re tired of serving the same recipes week after week, it’s time to switch up your bird game.

Look at a whole chicken as a blank canvas. You can keep a recipe basic or ramp it up with spicy heat, herbaceous flavors, and, as always, seasonal vegetables.

The beauty of the Roasted Butterflied Chicken and Tomatillos recipe is how flavors mix and mingle during cooking. As the tomatillos roast, they soften into a mouthwatering chunky salsa verde and are seasoned with the chicken’s juices. While the recipe calls for tortillas, you can spoon it over rice, polenta, or mashed ­potatoes.

Steam from the brew in Beer Can Chicken with Tomato Toast keeps the meat moist and juicy, and the can props the chicken up, so it roasts evenly. The garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper flakes, thyme, and tomatoes add a distinctive herbaceous flavor to the meat, but I encourage you to come up with your own combinations.

Roasted Butterflied Chicken  and Tomatillos

(Makes 6 servings)

  • 1 4-pound whole chicken
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and cut in half
  • 1 white onion, halved and cut into ½-inch-thick wedges
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped (for a hotter sauce, keep the seeds)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving
  • 6 whole-wheat flour or corn tortillas, warmed, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using poultry shears, split chicken open by cutting down one side of backbone, then cut out and remove backbone. Place chicken skin-side up on chopping board. Put your hand on breastbone and press hard to flatten chicken.

Heat very large cast-iron or other heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-­high heat. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons of olive oil with paprika, cumin, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Season with salt. Rub mixture all over chicken. Place chicken skin-side down in hot skillet and cook for about 4 minutes, or just until skin side is golden brown. Transfer chicken to large plate. Set skillet aside.

In large bowl, toss tomatillos, onions, garlic, and jalapeños with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange half of tomatillo mixture in skillet and nestle chicken on top, skin side up. Scatter remaining mixture around the chicken. Move skillet to oven. Roast for about 45 minutes, or until chicken shows no sign of pink when pierced in thickest part with tip of small, sharp knife and tomatillos are falling apart into sauce. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.

Season tomatillo salsa to taste with salt. Sprinkle cilantro over chicken and salsa and serve with lime wedges and tortillas.

Per serving

  • Calories: 532; Total Fat: 29 g
  • Saturated Fat: 8 g; Sodium: 251 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 34 g; Fiber: 6 g; Protein: 34 g
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 1.5 starch, 4 lean meat,  2 vegetable, 3.5 fat

Beer Can Chicken with Tomato Toast

Roast chicken with a beer can
Beer Can Chicken (Quentin Bacon)

(Makes 6 servings)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 garlic cloves, divided; 2 finely chopped, 2 whole
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed, coarsely crushed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 4-pound whole chicken, patted dry
  • 1 12-ounce can of beer
  • 6 3/4-inch-thick slices baguette
  • 4 tomatoes, halved crosswise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Mix 1 tablespoon oil, chopped garlic, fennel seed, pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Season to taste with salt. Rub mixture all over chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Prepare covered grill for indirect heat: Preheat all burners over high heat for 20 minutes. Turn off middle burner(s) and keep both side burners on high heat. Temperature gauge should read between 375°F and 400°F.

Pour off (or drink!) half of beer. Wrap aluminum foil around sides of beer can and place on heavy baking sheet. Carefully position chicken over beer can so it steadily rests upright on top of can. Place baking sheet over unlit portion of grill. Cover grill.

Cook chicken, rotating 180° halfway through cooking, for about 1 hour, or until chicken skin is golden brown and crisp, juices run clear, and a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F.

Using tongs, transfer chicken and can to cutting board. Remove can from chicken. Rest chicken, breast side up, on board 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, grill bread over lit burners for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until toasted and lightly charred. Rub whole garlic cloves over toast. Rub halved tomatoes over 1 side of toast until tomato flesh is covering them (use 1 tomato half for 2 slices of toast); discard tomato skins. Drizzle tomato toast with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with salt.

Carve chicken and place on platter with toast. Sprinkle with thyme and serve.

Make-Ahead: Chicken can marinate in spice mixture up to 1 day, covered and refrigerated.

Per serving

  • Calories: 700; Total Fat: 29 g; Saturated Fat: 7 g; Sodium: 804 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 47 g; Fiber: 1 g; Protein: 40 g
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 2.5 starch, 4 lean meat, 1 vegetable, 4 fat

Want more chicken recipes? Check out Curtis Stone’s Simple Roast Chicken and Potatoes at

This article is featured in the September/October 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

From What’s for Dinner? by Curtis Stone. Copyright © 2013 by Curtis Stone. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Recipes © Curtis Stone

Featured image: Roasted Butterflied Chicken and Tomatillos (Quentin Bacon)

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  1. Excellent recipe! I added potatoes because my garden produced so many and that’s how I had a similar dish once while traveling south of the border. Not only was the dish delicious, it was absolutely beautiful coming out of the oven. I served for a small dinner party and it was a show piece.

  2. You don’t butterfly a chicken, you spatchcock a chicken! (And, yes, I only know that because of Alton Brown!)

    How will we ever learn all those great old terms unless you use them?

    BTW, the Roasted (Spatchcock) Chicken and Tomatillos recipe looks pretty good! What size skillet is that? 12”?


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