How to Spatchcock a Chicken

How to Spatchcock a Chicken |

It’s Thursday night, and you need dinner on the table in less than an hour.

I know:  roasting a chicken sounds like not the solution you’re looking for.

Enter a method with a dirty-sounding name that is revolutionizing our quick weeknight meal!

Spatchcocking is a technique used to essentially open up a small-sized chicken so that it lays flat, and cooks ridiculously fast!  I also find that it helps the bird retain a ton of moisture, and makes for a really wholesome, one-pan meal that can be thrown together in minutes and out of the oven within the hour.

First, preheat your oven to 500F.

Start with your bird facing breast side down on a cutting board, arse end toward you, as pictured above.

Next, grab a pair of sharp kitchen scissors and cut the backbone completely out of the chicken, snipping along to the immediate right of the backbone and then to the left of it, removing the whole bone.  

How to Spatchcock a Chicken |

 Open ‘er up!

How to Spatchcock a Chicken |

(the potential – perceived or otherwise – double entendres in this post are delectable)

You’ll notice the chicken doesn’t quite lay flat yet.  There’s one more step.  

Locate the breastbone – a white, triangular structure toward the head of the bird.  Take your knife point and cut directly down and into the breastbone – approximately 1/2″ into the bone – until you feel it give a little.

(I probably should have mentioned before that this technique involves a lot of really satisfying – or gruesome, depending on your lovenotlove of butchering – crunching and breaking and cracking.  Sorry, vegetarians).

How to Spatchcock a Chicken |

 Now that you’ve done this, you’ll find that the chicken will lay flat.

How to Spatchcock a Chicken |

 Lay that bird in a roasting pan, being sure to tuck the chicken’s wingtips under its body so that they don’t burn while cooking.

I throw everything I want to eat for dinner – and more! – into the pan with the chicken.  This is usually a refrigerator clean-out for me, and includes carrots, potatoes, beets, cabbage, garlic (of course!), onion and more.  I topped this one with some torn fresh sage, and added lemon slices after the picture was taken.  The flavour was beautiful!

How to Spatchcock a Chicken |

 Cover the roasting pan and throw birdie in the oven at 500F for 15 minutes, and then drop the temperature to 400F and cook till a thermometer placed in the breast reads 165F – about another half an hour.


6 comments on “How to Spatchcock a Chicken

  1. Wow! I have done something similar but it involved a grill a brick and aluminum foil. What a clever idea for a week night meal.

    • I’ve heard of that brick method…maybe I will have to try that in the summer when it’s a little better weather for grilling. That also sounds like a fast and easy way to get some chicken on the table!

  2. i have one last chicken from last summer’s poultry CSA in my freezer that i want out before the spring season begins. this is the most perfect way to use it up, as well as my fridge contents before we go on vacation next week.
    i attended to a knife skills class once and we learned to debone a chicken, the sound of breaking the bones was so incredibly satisfying!

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