Some dishes you make because they’re both easy and drop-dead delicious. Others because they feature a killer technique. This mustard-crusted chicken has it all—showmanship, complex layers of curry mustard flavor, moist tender meat, and a sizzling crisp crust. It also gives you the opportunity to use one of the coolest words in the culinary lexicon: spatchcocking (“dispatch the cock”—the chicken, that is)—the process of removing a chicken’s backbone and opening it up like a book, so it lays flat and cooks quickly and evenly, maximizing the ratio of skin and crust to the meat.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Step 2: If there is a package of giblets, remove it from the cavity of the chicken. Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold water and blot it dry with paper towels. Place the bird, breast side down, on a cutting board. Using poultry or kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut through the flesh and bone along both sides of the backbone so that you can completely remove the backbone.
Step 3: Open the bird like a book by gently pulling the halves apart. Using a sharp paring knife, cut along and under both sides of the breastbone and cartilage attached to it. Discard the breastbone. Cut off the tips of the wings. Spread the bird out flat.
Step 4: Using the tip of the knife, make a slit in the loose skin between the lower end of the breast and the leg, on each side, approximately 1/2 inch long. Stick the end of each drumstick through the slit on that side. This step is optional, but it makes the bird look cool.
Step 5: Place the curry powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle the curry seasoning over the chicken on both sides, rubbing it onto the meat.
Step 6: Place the bird skin side down and, using a spatula, spread about a third of the mustard over the flesh side of the chicken. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the bread crumbs on top. Arrange the chicken skin side up in a roasting pan. Spread the remaining mustard on the skin side of the bird and crust it with the remaining 2/3 cup of bread crumbs. Drizzle the olive oil or melted butter over the bread crumbs.
Step 7: Place the bird in the oven and roast it until the crust of crumbs is browned and sizzling and the chicken is cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness, inserting it sideways through a thigh but not so that it touches a bone. When done the internal temperature should be 165°F. If the crust browns too much before the bird is cooked through, loosely cover it with a piece of aluminum foil.
Step 8: Transfer the chicken to a platter. Let it rest for about 3 minutes, then cut it into pieces, 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wing sections (with a little breast meat attached), and 2 breasts, for serving.
Spatchcocking was originally done to enable you to cook a whole chicken on a grill without a cover. This recipe tells you how to make it in the oven, but if you’d like to grill it, set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high (400°F). Place the bird away from the heat over the drip pan and indirect grill for about 30 minutes.