In a small bowl, combine the butter, cardamom, orange zest, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.
Butterfly the chicken: Place on a cutting board, breast-side down with the neck toward you. Using a pair of sharp kitchen shears (and your biceps), cut through the bones on either side of the backbone; the spine should come away in a narrow strip, which you can discard or save for stock. Flip the bird over, breasts facing up and closest to you. Using the heel of your palm and your body weight, push down on the breastbone; you should hear it crack. The chicken should lie flat now. Rotate the drumsticks toward the center line of the body so she looks a little knock-kneed. There you go. You just butterflied a chicken!
Slide your fingers between the flesh and the skin over the breasts, thighs and drumsticks. Use a teaspoon to deposit a little of the flavored butter into each pocket and smooth it out over each part of the chicken, making sure the butter is evenly spread, then pat the skin dry.
Toss the potato slices with the sunflower oil, season with salt and pepper and let them sit in a bowl at room temperature alongside the chicken for 30 minutes. Give your oven a quick wipe down before preheating it to 500 degrees F. (The high temps will cause any leftover drips to smoke you out of your kitchen! If your oven still smokes, then turn it down to 450 degrees F after the first 10 minutes.)
Drain off the water that's been drawn from the potatoes and pour the potatoes into an even layer in a large cast-iron skillet. Place the chicken on top of the potatoes and tuck the wings under her shoulders. Pop the whole kit 'n' kaboodle into the oven. Cook for 20 minutes. Rotate the skillet and cook for 20 more minutes, until the skin is crispy, the juices run clear and the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
Remove the chicken from the oven and set aside to rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board, loosely tented with foil. Using a fish spatula or slotted spoon, gently turn the potatoes. If you'd like them crispier, pop them under your broiler for 3 to 5 minutes. Scoop out the potatoes onto a platter, leaving behind the pan grease. Cut the chicken into pieces, place them on top of the potatoes and serve with boldness and courage!
Find more recipes from Aarti in her cookbook, Aarti Paarti ($28, Grand Central Publishing).
Photograph by Ryan Liebe
Recipe from Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul. Copyright(c) by Aarti Sequeira. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.