How to Spatchcock a Chicken and Why You Should Do It

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Have I got a cooking technique for you today.  Ever heard of spatchcock chicken?  Well, I’m going to discuss how to spatchcock a chicken, and why you should do it.  I’ve seen spatchcock chicken pop up in my cooking magazines over the past few years from time to time, and I’ve been wanting to try it forever, but never got around to it.  I’ve now done it twice in two weeks, and I’m sold, so I’m sharing it with you.

Perhaps you have no clue what spatchcock chicken is?  Basically, it’s a fancy name for a whole chicken butterflied.  I wondered myself why people don’t just use the term “butterflied chicken”, but I read in one of my favorite food resources, “The New Food Lover’s Companion“, that spatchcocking refers only to fowl.  So there you have it.  And I think we can all agree that the word spatchcock is much cooler and should get people interested quick. 😉

Now on with the show. 🙂

First off, why on earth should you spatchcock a chicken?

  • Like I said…it’s easy.
  • It cooks quicker — up to 25% quicker — which equates to roughly 15 minutes or so depending on how big your bird is.  And 15 minutes is 15 minutes!
  • It cooks more evenly.  Normally with whole chickens, the breast cooks much faster than the thighs, which results in the breast meat drying out.  I’ve tried cooking it breast side down first, then turning it over halfway through, and brining is also popular to prevent this as much as possible.  BUT…spatchcocking the chicken is your full proof way to cook it so that the breast meat and thigh meat are done at the same time.  It’s practically like magic.
  • Because the chicken lays flat, the skin has maximum exposure to the heat, resulting in a whole lot more crispy, golden brown skin.  And that’s the stuff that make people love roast chicken right there.
  • Did I mention you can also grill your chicken this way?  Oh yes, and you better believe I’m doing it come summer time.
  • Spatchcocking is not just for chicken either as there are plenty of other foul around. Try it on your Thanksgiving turkey!  Never mind the fact that you won’t have that stop- in-your-tracks-beautiful-bird for photos, because your turkey is guaranteed to be nice and moist. And that’s the most important thing, isn’t it?
  • I rest my case. 🙂

Now, we need to touch on the How’s:

Grab a whole chicken ranging from 3 – 4 pounds, remove the giblets and pat dry.

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Place the chicken breast side down with the neck and wings toward you.  Using kitchen shears, cut along either side of the backbone to remove.  Discard with the giblets or place in a zip top bag and freeze them for stock.

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Using a paring knife, make a 1/2″cut from the tip of the breast bone down, which will make it easier to flatten. Or you can skip this step if you’re feeling really strong. 🙂

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Flip the chicken so it’s breast side up, and press down hard over the breast bone to flatten.

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Loosen the skin over the breast and thighs for seasoning.

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Season with your favorite rub, herbs, garlic, lemons, and the like.

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Cook on a rimmed baking sheet or cast iron skillet at 425 degrees until the thickest part of the thigh registers at 165 degrees, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Let rest for 10 minutes, carve, and enjoy!

And tune in tomorrow for the full recipe for the spatchcock chicken below!  It’s a good one, I promise. 🙂

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