In the light of full disclosure, my JW chicken is neither one recipe, nor one dish. I have achieved a certain acclaim for it, but truth be told, the variations are many. The chicken that propelled the whole myth started at Jams in New York City. I was under the influence of my good friend Larry Forgione, one of the masterminds of the American culinary revolution. His desire to seek out small farmers has blossomed into a movement. Among the people he has cultivated was a biologist turned chicken farmer named Paul Kayser. Paul’s passion for raising a bird equal to the noble poularde de Bresse in France was infectious. And his chickens were fantastic.
A major component of my success is the esoteric wood oven we use at Barbuto. I designed it with a pizza oven on top and a massive grill below. It’s very versatile; we cook anything from fish to desserts in it, and the oven is the perfect place to roast the JW chicken. We use a Pennsylvania natural chicken, butterfly it (that is, we remove the backbone with kitchen shears), then spread it with olive oil and roast at a high temperature. These steps are easy to duplicate at home. The only extra piece of equipment you might want is an oval sizzle platter. You can order these at any good kitchen-supply house. They are standard restaurant equipment and enable you to fire-blast the chicken, giving it a crispy skin and succulent, perfectly moist meat.
The last bit of good news is the salsa verde,which is incredible. We serve it on scallops, lamb, pizza, and with vegetables. It is addictive!
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Wash the bird in hot water (this will remove any nasty juices that collect in the plastic wrap that all chickens seem to come in). Dry with paper towels.
Using kitchen shears, cut out the backbone of the chicken and remove any fat (these can be added to a chicken stock. Then, using a heavy chef’s knife, cut out the breastbone. Season the 2 halves with sea salt and black pepper.
Place the chicken halves, skin side up, on 2 sizzle platters and dab with the olive oil. Cut the lemon in half and place a half, cut side down, next to the chicken on each platter.
Roast the chicken for 35 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. If it is not browning well, turn it over after 15 minutes, and then right it for the last 5 minutes. When it is done, remove the chicken to a platter and pour off the excess fat. Cut each breast in half and cut the thigh from the leg. Serve with salsa verde and garnish with the roasted lemon.