Roasting a Spatchcock chicken speeds up cooking, producing juicier flesh and crisp skin. It’s a simple technique that will help you look like class A MasterChef the next time you roast a whole bird.
What is a Spatchcock Chicken?
The act of spatchcocking refers to the process of removing the backbone from a chicken or any other bird used for cooking, such as turkey. Once the spine has been removed, the whole bird will appear open, giving the technique its other name of “butterfly”, which also applies to chicken breast when sliced in half so it opens like a book. The two sides of a whole chicken or the smaller breasts make the chicken look like a butterfly with the help of the chicken’s symmetrical wings.
Spatchcocking or butterflying a bird will produce quicker cooking times and juicier flesh. It’s ideal for barbecuing or grilling a whole chicken when making a homemade peri-peri chicken. It is perfect for cooking a large turkey to help prevent the meat from overcooking before the heat has had time to penetrate the whole bird.
Equipment is Important
As with most kitchen preparations, this method requires a chef knife and chopping board. However, spatchcocking a chicken involves using a heavy-duty pair of scissors known as poultry sheers or kitchen scissors. These shears are larger and sturdier than their general paper counterparts. Kitchen-specific scissors will help when cutting through bones and feel easier on your fingers. Plus, regular scissors may snap under pressure.
How to Spatchcock a Chicken
All you need at this stage is a whole chicken and the equipment mentioned above. This walkthrough is a general guide, and the seasonings, such as salt to taste, can be found in the recipe below.
On a chopping board, lay the whole chicken breast side down so the backbone faces towards you. Pat the chicken dry so it doesn’t slip and slide everywhere. Cut down either side of the spine using your sturdy kitchen shears. The most challenging part may be where the backbone meets the thigh bones. After removing the backbone, turn the chicken over and gently push it down on the breast to flatten it and open it up.
Cook as directed by your preferred recipe. A tip here for cooking would be to tuck the wings behind the chicken breast, as they tend to catch and turn black quite quickly.
While I spend my time writing, I understand that a visual guide is sometimes preferred when learning a new technique. Thankfully, the BBC have produced an excellent 1 minute video detailing how to spatchcock a chicken.
How To Spatchcock Chicken
- 1 Kitchen Shears
- 1 Spatchcocked Chicken
- 3 Garlic Cloves finely chopped.
- 8 Sprigs of Thyme Leaves Picked and Chopped
- Salt / Pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Preheat the oven to 200C or 180C Fan 0r 400F or Gas 6
- Combine the thyme, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
- On a chopping board, lay the whole chicken breast side down so the backbone faces towards you. Once the backbone has been removed, turn the chicken over and gently push it down on the breast to flatten it and open it up.
- On a wire rack, place the spatchcocked chicken. Rub the olive oil and herb mixture over the chicken.
- Roast the spatchcock chicken for 1 hour or until the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted in the thickest part of the thigh. Or it reads 75C on a thermometer.
- Allow the bird to rest for at least ten minutes