As we all know, some of the simplest entrees make the best background for outstanding food-and-wine matches, enhancing the combination without dominating it. Simply prepared rare beef and leg of lamb, for instance, with tannic reds ... broiled or poached white fish with dry, crisp whites. And sometimes better still, a simple roast chicken makes an ideal match with many reds AND whites.

I did it again just the other night when blizzard conditions made it unpleasant to go out. Over the years, I've picked up a few tricks to make this entree not only tasty but quick and easy.

First, rather than fooling with trussing, stuffing and rolling the bird, I suggest butterflying it (a technique that I've heard Southern French folks call "a la crapaudine " or "toad style," which puts me in mind of road kill.

Take a young (2 to 3 pound) frying hen, wash and dry it, and use poultry shears or kitchen scissors to cut out the backbone. Open it up on your work board and smack the breastbone to flatten the bird further, then tuck its wings behind its shoulders to keep 'em in place. Pull out excess fat, if you're finicky, and spread the flattened bird out on a rack in a shallow roaster. (I always cover the roaster with foil to make clean-up easy for my wife, who gladly washes the dishes as long as I cook.)

As optional extras, you can lift the breast skin and shove lots of smashed garlic underneath, or rosemary; and/or rub olive oil or butter on the skin and grind on plenty of black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 450F (that's HOT) and slam the bird in. Check it after 15 minutes, and if the breast skin is already getting crisp, turn the heat down to 400; roast for another 30 minutes -- no more than 45 overall -- remove, quarter and serve.

That's all there is to it! Quick dinner, great match for a wide variety of wines. During grilling weather, use the identical procedure to grill the flattened bird on your Weber kettle (indirect heat), as in the following recipe: