AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Got chicken? Got two cast iron skillets? Feeling strong? If so, in today's Found Recipe, we've got you and your chicken covered.
JAY BENTLEY: Hi, my name is Jay Bentley and I run a restaurant outside of Bozeman, Montana called The Mint Bar and 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 is it's a good way to build your biceps.
CORNISH: That's because Bentley's technique involves stacking two heavy and hot cast iron skillets, putting one into the other, the better to sear a chicken with.
BENTLEY: You 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. 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.
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 is leached out of it. That's not the way chicken is really meant to be. 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 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 preheat 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.
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 'cause 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.
CORNISH: That's Montana restaurateur, Jay Bentley. He's written a cookbook with Patrick Dillon called "Open Range: Steaks, Chops and More From Big Sky Country." If you want to give this a shot, you can find the recipe for Bentley's cast iron roasted half chicken on the Found Recipe page at NPR.org.
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