When you have a famous chef for a dad, you learn how to enjoy good food early on — and if you’re Madeline and Anna Zakarian, you learn how to cook it, too. The daughters of Geoffrey Zakarian have been in training for years, helping with family dinners and assisting Dad with cooking demos at press events, on Good Morning America and on his Food Network show The Kitchen. Now the 13- and 11-year-old girls are releasing their first cookbook, The Family That Cooks Together, a collection of 85 recipes that they love making at home. Don’t expect chicken fingers: These young chefs have grown up learning to appreciate dishes like linguine with fresh clams and strawberry soufflé. Anna promises that they’re not trying to intimidate anyone; the idea is to show kids that fancy-sounding food can be really easy to make. For this spatchcock chicken, they use a dad-approved shortcut and get the chicken split open at the butcher. Then they just roast it and serve it with rice for a quick dinner. “We want to show people of all ages that you can cook delicious things,” Madeline says.
1 large cast-iron or ovenproof skillet, 1 meat thermometer and 1 pair of tongs
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Rinse the chicken, pat dry and rub all over with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Generously season on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat a large cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the oil is hot, place the chicken, skin side down, in the pan. Cook until the skin starts to crisp on the edges and the color is golden brown. Flip the chicken over with tongs, taking care not to splatter oil toward yourself, and add the garlic, rosemary and thyme around the chicken in the pan. Squeeze a lemon half over the top and place both lemon halves in the pan, cut sides down.
Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the chicken (skin side up) for 30 to 35 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers 155˚ F when inserted in the thickest part of a breast. Let rest for about 10 minutes, then carve and serve with pan juices.