Pastrami Roast Chicken

Cast-Iron Spatchcocked Chicken with Pastrami Spices by Geoffrey Zakarian is an easy to make, fabulously spiced poultry dish. Sunday chicken evokes comforting childhood memories, so it’s a bonus to add a new twist to an old favorite. About a month ago I blogged on a similar recipe from Mr. Zakarian, Aleppo Pepper and Dill Roast Chicken which was just as interesting, juicy and tasty.

Our roasted chicken was almost picture perfect, and both dark (Hubby’s preference) and light meat (my choice) were super juicy with good texture and solid flavor. Keep in mind, the black pepper is definitely dominant, so be prepared for a peppery kick.


Spatchcocking a chicken reduces cooking time and ensures juicy meat—and it’s quite simple. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove, and then open the chicken up flat. (Save the backbone to make stock.) After we flattened out our 4-pound chicken (yes, a little bigger than the recipe called for), Russ questioned whether or not it would fit into our large cast-iron skillet. The answer? Just barely, with a little maneuvering we got it to  fit.


We paired our main entrée with steamed broccolini and roasted fingerling potatoes which cooked at the same temp as the bird. Placed in that same rimmed baking sheet, now lined with parchment paper, I put the potatoes in the oven 15 minutes prior to removing the chicken, and then while the bird rested for 20 minutes, the potatoes finished roasting. Crispy on the outside, creamy tender on the inside, perfection!


Cast-Iron Spatchcocked Chicken with Pastrami Spices

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 3- to 3-1/2-lb. whole chicken, spatchcocked
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. black peppercorns
  • 2 Tbs. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 lightly packed tsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil


  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and heat the oven to 450°F.
    Spatchcock the chicken: Place chicken breast-side down, with the legs towards you. Using sturdy scissors or poultry shears, cut up along each side of the parson’s nose and backbone to remove it, cutting through the rib bones as you go. Open the chicken out and turn over. (Reserve and freeze the backbone for homemade stock.)
  2. Press down on the chicken breasts with the heels of your hands to flatten a little; it’s OK if the wishbone cracks. If necessary, turn the legs so that the meatier side is on the same plane as the breast.
  3. Pat the chicken dry inside and out with paper towels. Put the chicken breast side up on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Tuck the wings behind the back, and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, put the peppercorns, coriander seeds, and mustard seeds in a spice grinder, and process until coarsely crushed. (Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle.)
  5. Transfer to a small bowl. Mix in the sugar, paprika, and garlic.
  6. Brush 1 Tbs. of the oil on the skin side of the chicken. Rub the spice mixture evenly over the chicken, pressing it into the skin.
  7. Put the remaining 2 Tbs. of oil in a large ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, and heat over medium heat until shimmering.
  8. Put the chicken in the skillet breast side down, and press down on it with a heavy-bottomed pan. Cook until the skin starts to sear and the spices are light golden, about 2 minutes.
  9. Flip the chicken breast side up, and transfer the skillet to the oven.
  10. Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F, 30 to 35 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven, tent lightly with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes before carving and serving.


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