Roasted spatchcocked chicken is maybe three minutes more work.
We all know how easy roast chicken is. I mean, it’s nothing. Ten minutes work, an hour in the oven, boom: crackly-skinned, succulent-fleshed poultry.
But what if you wanted to get that bird on the table in half the time? With three extra minutes of work, you can get spatchcocked chicken and make that 30-minute roasting happen.
WHAT IS SPATCHCOCKING?
‘Spatchcock’ actually has a meaning, and it’s not vulgar. To spatchcock is to remove the backbone from a chicken or other bird and flatten it, so that it cooks more quickly. Think how quickly a pizza cooks compared to a loaf of bread. Now add in the possibility of salmonella in an undercooked bird, and you begin to grasp why spatchcocking can be so useful.
Even though the word spatchcock does have a technical definition, it still sounds hilariously rude, and I plan on saying ‘spatchcock’ as often as I possibly can.
I’ve spatchcocked a free-range turkey before, but that bird was so burly that severing the ribs to remove the spine was an hour-long ordeal, and I’m not sure if I ever successfully cracked the sternum to fully flatten the carcass. I needed surgical-grade bone cracking tools—what I had was a pair of fairly flimsy kitchen scissors, and those ribs were like wrought iron.
I was relieved to discover that chicken ribs are more like twigs. My kitchen shears sliced right through them, and I was able to spatchcock that chicken like a naughty dream.
SPATCHCOCKED CHICKEN, STEP BY STEP
Like anytime you’re dealing with a big lump of raw bird, you’ll want to start in the sink. Put the (still packaged) chicken in the sink, pull up a trash can, prepare a pan, and have a good stack of paper towels at the ready.
Oh, and go ahead and measure out your salt and pepper. I use about 3/4 tsp salt per pound of meat, and about half that of pepper. Put all that in a little bowl next to the sink.
Unwrap the chicken, and get your shears ready. Things are about to get grim.
The big hole next to the drumsticks? That’s the chicken’s butt. There should be a triangular flap of skin and fat, that’s the tail. Now find the neck at the hole at the other end of the chicken. Line up the tail and the neck, and use the shears to cut from the side of the tail all the way down to the neck. Now do the same on the other side of the tail.
You have just removed the backbone.
Now just grip the sides of the chicken with the new cut facing away from you, and press your thumbs in the middle until the breastbone cracks.
Seeing as how a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll reference anyone who is confused right now to this Serious Eats video guide.
Suffice to say, once you figure out the anatomy of the chicken, actually removing its backbone and flattening it out is a very easy, and very fast, process.
Seeing as how roast chicken is such an easy process already, I don’t make spatchcocked chicken very often. But when I do need a faster roast bird, spatchcocking is a good way to make it happen.
- 1 whole chicken
- salt (3/4 tsp per pound of chicken)
- black pepper (half the amount of salt)
- Preheat the oven to 450°.
- Using kitchen shears, remove the chicken's backbone and flatten the carcass by cracking the breastbone.
- Dry the chicken with paper towels, and rub with the salt and pepper.
- Roast on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet, for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165°. Roast the backbone as well, and save for stock. Rest the chicken for 10 minutes before carving.