I arrived home the other night a little on the late side, and was so happy to have the awesome time-saving technique of spatchcocking in my repertoire. My wife had bought a chicken and pre-heated the oven so the wheels were in motion. A few quick snips with my kitchen shears to remove the bird’s backbone and a tender little butter massage, and this beauty was ready to roll. Spatchcocking (or butterflying) the bird does two things. It allows it to cook more quickly by splaying it out and opening up its body cavity, and also encourages even cooking by better exposing the dark meat portions of the bird, the legs and thighs, to a more direct heat. In the time it takes you to truss a bird you can spatchcock it, and once split open, is considerably quicker to the table. Whether you’re grilling or roasting a whole chicken, and aren’t bothered with the unconventional appearance of poultry that looks like it was run over by a truck, then you owe it to yourself to try spatchcocking.
I cooked it until the dark meat registered about 170 ℉ on my Thermapen, then pulled it to rest for about 10 minutes before carving. Oh….and did I mention that carving a butterflied roast is so much easier than one left whole? There, I just did! In addition to slipping a little butter under the skin for moisture and flavor, I also seasoned the bird on both sides generously with salt and pepper and a left-over spice rub I made for lamb kebabs the other day. It turned out perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked, and perfectly delicious! I rarely cook a chicken these days without butterflying it first, and I bet that if you give it a try you’ll soon be singing the praises of spatchcocking too.
Cheers – Steve
- 1 large, organic chicken - 4 to 5 pounds
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1-2 tablespoons favorite spice rub
- Kosher salt and black pepper - to taste
- Set oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 500°F. Using sharp kitchen shears or heavy bladed knife, remove backbone from chicken. Flatten chicken by placing flat skin side up on cutting board and applying firm pressure to breast bone. Gently run fingers under skin on breasts and thighs to create a pocket, then evenly distibute the butter between the skin and meat. Rub butter left on your fingers to thinly coat exterior of chicken on all surfaces. Season generously with kosher salt, ground black pepper and spice rub of choice.
- Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Position chicken so that breasts are aligned with center of baking sheet and legs are close to edge. Roast until thickest part of breast close to bone registers 150 ℉ on an instant-read thermometer and joint between thighs and body registers at least 170°F, about 45 minutes, reducing the heat to 450°F if the chicken starts to darken too quickly.
- Remove chicken from oven, transfer to cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and allow to rest ten minutes before carving.