Spatchcock Chicken: Easy. Impressive. Delicious.

spatchcock chicken
Hey, do you like preparing an amazing meal that tastes great, impresses your dinner guests, and that is actually so easy to make it’s harder to screw up then pull off? Then you, sir, will love making, serving, and eating Spatchcock Chicken!

When done right (and yes, it really is easy), spatchcocking can help you prepare an entire roasted chicken in about a half hour. And in case you have no frame of reference whatsoever, that’s pretty fast. Just as an FYI… this technique does require the removal of a chicken’s backbone. It’s not exactly an impersonal cooking experience, but I think you’re up to it. And know that not only is this technique swifter than traditional roasting, but it also yields a juicy, flavorful, evenly cooked bird.

To spatchcock a chicken, you will need…

  • 1 Whole Chicken (get one that’s prepped for cooking, not that’s alive and still rather cute in its own way)
  • A Big Ol’ Cast Iron Skillet
  • Kitchen Shears (or a sharp knife, but shears are easier)
  • Salt and Varied Spices and/or Vegetables of Your Choosing
  • Oil (two tablespoons, four, whatever)

And here’s how you make this fine food…

  • Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
  • Prepare the chicken as needed, trimming away extra fat and/or skin.
  • Cut the backbone out of the chicken. Yes, this can seem a bit grisly. Just… do it.
  • Flip the chicken over so the now-skinless side is down. Press it flat down into your lightly oiled cast iron skillet.
  • Now toss in some salt, some pepper, some paprika, whatever sounds good — spatchcocked chicken can take on flavors ranging from citrus to savory to sweet.
  • Here’s one idea: add halved cherry tomatoes, diced potatoes, and chunks of onion, plus about a half cup each of water and white wine. That’ll make you a damn fine meal. Also serve other things, why not?

From start to finish, you should be able to prepare a spatchcocked chicken in about 40 to 45 minutes. And you can keep that backbone you savagely removed to make stock for later soups or stews, too! Hooray!

Oh, and no, it’s not spatchcook, it’s spatchcock. The name comes from the 18th century or perhaps earlier. Recall that “cock” is often used to refer to birds (poultry type birds, that is) and “spatch” refers to splitting the foodstuff down the middle. Now you know.
Tips and selected photographs courtesy of Stephen J. Fischer

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