Ahhh, Provence! I can smell the lavender from here. Romantic, rustic, a place that speaks to my heart.… Well, in theory. I’ve actually never been. I never even got a T-shirt. But I did get some herbs de Provence, and that led to Poulet Papillon Provencal, an homage to the loveliness of this region of France.
I visited France three times as a teenager—twice to Paris, a city ripe with interest, education and diversion. My memories include bartering for jewelry, scoring a cool pair of aviator sunglasses and wandering, jaw dropped, while gawking at the architecture, museums, art, churches and palaces. We ate French Onion Soup at a street-side cafe’ and people-watched, too. I never saw the love locks of Paris, but I was recently amused to find some love locks fastened to a suspended bridge over a section of the Holston River, nestled in Appalachia.Jump to Recipe
For the Love of Food Language
If you follow my blog you may recall I spatchcocked a giant turkey in 2020. As a word lover, writer, vocalist and voice actor, I’m smitten with language and its sounds. “Spatchcock” has rich history and is fun to say. (I’ve even written a silly poem about it.) In cooking the technique is also known as “butterfly,” which seems more elegant and refined. Butterfly sounds even prettier in French, so “papillon” it is. Whatever you want to call it, the work is the same: cut the spine out and flatten the bird. Dry brine, cook and enjoy!
About Poulet Papillon Provencal
This dish meets my “simple” or ”simple ingredient” criterion of four or fewer ingredients: bird, salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence. What could be more well suited to a recipe that honors a rustic, romantic region? An 8-lb bird will take about an hour to cook. A perfect crunch on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside and delicious.
“You can’t get a suit of armour and a rubber chicken just like that. You have to plan ahead.”Michael Palin
Poulet Papillon Provencal
- kitchen shears
- 1 whole roaster chicken ingredients assume 6-8 lb bird
- 1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 ½ tsp herbs de Provence
- Remove organ meats from inside bird and trim fat. Rinse and pat dry.
- Mix dry brine and set aside.
- Locate spine of chicken and cut one side from leg end of chicken using shears. Cut the other side and remove spine.
- Press rib cage and flatten out bird. Pat dry.
- TIP: if you cannot break the rib cage, snip the breast bone to help flatten bird.
- Dry brine and place on baking pan or platter. Let sit for at least four hours, preferably overnight.
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Cook until exterior is browned, about 20 minutes or so.
- Reduce temperature to 375-400° F (for larger birds, lean toward higher temp) and cook until internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 150° F and internal temperature of thigh is 165° F. Cover with foil to prevent overbrowning if needed.
- Let sit 10 minutes before slicing and serving.