This recipe is the opposite of ambitious — it's not lazy or uninspired, it's just resourcefulness at its best. This Cilantro Chile Lime Chicken came about because I wanted a super simple, quick-ish way to roast a whole chicken (thank you, spatchcocking) with flavors that could go with all my favorite foods (hello there, Cilantro Rice or Mango Feta Avocado Salad). So, here it is: a recipe I roast when it’s cooler out, grill when it’s hot, and keep on hand for pretty much any and all occasions where too ambitious just isn’t needed.
seeded and minced
grated or minced
divided plus more limes for garnish
plus more for drizzling
for garnish (optional)
Heat oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Remove necks and any innards from the cavities and discard.
To spatchcock, use a sharp pair of poultry shears or kitchen scissors to cut along the backbone; remove and discard. Score along the breastbone then flip chicken, placing it breast-side up, and pressing down to flatten until it is lying completely flat.
You'll want a really sharp pair of kitchen scissors or poultry shears, like these Take Apart Kitchen Shears for spatchcocking the chicken.
Combine half of the lime zest with remaining ingredients in a small bowl and mix until evenly combined. Season and adjust flavor as desired. Loosen the skin from the breast and legs of the chicken and, using your clean hands, spread the mixture underneath. Rub the remaining mixture all over the outside of the chicken. Set aside while oven heats up, at least 20 minutes.
Drizzle a few spoonfuls of the oil into a large cast iron pan, roasting pan, or baking dish and rotate to coat the bottom. Lay chicken breast-side down then roast until breast is golden brown and opaque, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully flip, then continue to roast, basting every few minutes, until thigh juices run clear and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165°F, about 15 to 20 minutes more (about 45 to 50 minutes total).
For a really awesome golden crust on the chicken, I roast the chicken in my large Le Creuset 5-Quart Round Braiser (with the lid off the whole time) though a good baking dish will work too.
Set chicken aside and rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving. Serve garnished with remaining lime zest, cilantro, and with pan juices spooned over the top.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp