Roast a chicken for a bit of outdoor romance

A roasted chicken served with sandwich fixings and a bottle of wine makes a romantic picnic dinner that can be planned and made ahead. Enlarge photo

Matthew Mead/Associated Press

A roasted chicken served with sandwich fixings and a bottle of wine makes a romantic picnic dinner that can be planned and made ahead.

My recipe for a romantic picnic? A roasted chicken with sandwich trimmings.

Roll with me on this one. Itís easy and totally appropriate.

You start out by following my couldnít-be-easier recipe for cast-iron skillet roasted whole chicken. The gist is that you split the bird at the backbone (technically called spatchcocking, but that just seems inappropriate in this context), sear it breast side down on the stovetop, then flip the bird and finish it in the oven.

When the chicken is cooked, you let it cool, then you cover it and refrigerate it right in the pan. You even can do the roasting the night before.

The rest is up to you, but the idea is to accompany your bird with sandwich fixings. Start with some sliced sourdough bread or whole-grain pita pockets. Add some washed and dried lettuce, sliced tomatoes, slabs of cheddar or manchego cheese, a few condiments, and whatever else you and your date enjoy.

Add a bottle of wine and the chilled chicken and youíre good to go. At the picnic, you set out everything and leisurely sip and assemble sandwiches (or just nibble). Because when the idea is to woo, itís hard to beat whipping out a whole roasted chicken complete with sandwich supplies.

This recipe also makes enough for a crowd. A 4-pound chicken should provide enough meat for eight sandwiches. If you donít need that much, look for a smaller bird, but watch the cooking time, as it should be shorter.