In these times we find ourselves in, I think it’s a pretty common (and pretty reasonable) response from people to sink back into familiar comforts. For you, that might be a movie from your childhood, your favorite band, or a bingeable sitcom. For me, the best way to fill that niche is undoubtedly food videos on YouTube. And while I could go on and on about the beautifully bro-y butchery of Prime Time, the hands-and-pans glory of Binging With Babish, or the positively perfect personalities of Bon Appetit, the best bet for my money is Food Wishes.
Food Wishes, for those who don’t know, is a twice-weekly recipe channel on YouTube hosted by chef John Mitzewich. Food Wishes was one of the first channels I discovered in college while I was really getting into cooking, and has been a part of my permanent rotation ever since. I love Chef John’s simple, friendly, and perfectly cheesy way of walking through his recipes which were exactly what I needed when I was starting out, and are still the easiest way to wrap my mind around some complicated dishes.
And while my fiance may mock the, ahem, particular cadence of the videos (“This is Chef John from FOOOOOOOD Wishes dot com”), there is something oddly soothing to me about rewatching these videos, especially now. Regardless of whether I’m planning to make the dish in question or not, the familiar rhythm, cringeworthy puns, and cheery, informal vibe always put me in a good mood. Chef John feels like an old friend, one who shares my passion for cooking and wants to help me develop my skills. Yes, a huge part of my repertoire is shamelessly cribbed from Food Wishes recipes, but the biggest gift I’ve gotten from Chef John is more confidence in the kitchen and a calm, reliable voice I can turn to whenever I need it.
With that in mind, here is my take on one of the best recipes I’ve gotten from the site, and perhaps my mom’s favorite thing I’ve ever made for her, Million Dollar Chicken. If you’re interested in the original recipe, you can find it here. And, as Chef John would say, as always, enjoy!
Million Dollar Chicken
The biggest difference between my recipe and the original is that I spatchcock the chicken. That means removing the spine of the chicken (either with poultry shears or a knife) and pushing down to flatten the bird. This has a few advantages, in my opinion: First, it lets the bird cook more quickly and evenly. Second, it gives us more exposed skin to slather in the delicious creme fraiche glaze. And lastly, it lets us put an extra slice of bread underneath to soak up all the schmaltz and cream that makes the incredible side that really puts this recipe over the top.
The other big departure is that I salt my bird a day in advance, which I think leads to crispier skin and tastier meat. I cannot recommend this highly enough if you have time – it literally makes every chicken dish better.
~4.5 Lb Chicken
1 bunch Thyme
4 thick slices Italian Bread
For the glaze:
1 cup Creme Fraiche
1 medium shallot
4 cloves Garlic
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (Or Aleppo if you can find it)
- Spatchcock the chicken. Video on how to do this can be found here.
- Pat dry with paper towels and salt the chicken generously all over on both sides with kosher salt. Place on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and leave uncovered in the fridge for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Drizzle olive oil on rimmed baking sheet and slices of bread. Place bread on sheet so that one slice is under each thigh and each breast of flattened chicken. Place thyme on top of bread.
- Pat chicken dry again with paper towels. Season generously with black pepper and rub skin with olive oil.
- Place chicken on bread and put in oven. Cook for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make creme fraiche glaze by grating shallot and garlic into bowl, and combining with creme fraiche, lemon zest and juice, and red pepper.
- Remove chicken from oven. Remove chicken and thyme from bread and flip bread slices. Don’t be alarmed if bread looks burnt. Return chicken to bread, slather liberally with creme fraiche glaze and place back in oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and glaze again, and return for final 8 minutes. Place chicken on board to rest for 10 minutes.
- While chicken is resting, heat remaining glaze in small saucepan until slightly more cream-like in texture, about 3 minutes.
You will be greeted with the most delicious chicken dish you’ve ever had.