Techniques

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

Spatchcocking—splitting a chicken by removing the backbone so you can flatten it—results in crispier skin and even, quick cooking

The term “spatchcock” is rumored to be a 17th century shorthand for “dispatching the cock”, meaning to open a chicken carcass in order to cook it. This technique involves splitting the chicken by removing the backbone so you can flatten it, resulting in crispier skin and even, quicker cooking.

A spatchcocked bird is great in the oven for a quick roast chicken. Rub a 3-4 pound chicken with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roast at 450° F for about 40 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165° F. Spatchcocking is also ideal for a chicken you want to grill—by laying flat, it easily chars and absorbs smoke’s flavor, while staying juicier (and prettier) than it would if you cut it into pieces. After lighting a grill, rub a 3-4 pound chicken with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook breast side-down for 10 minutes until charred and then flip and cook another 30 minutes, covered, until the internal temperature reaches 165° F. Once you’ve mastered your chicken, try spatchcocking other birds, such as guinea hens and Cornish game hens, and grill them as well.

Flip chicken so it is breast-side down, exposing the backbone.
With kitchen shears, cut along one side of the backbone.
Cut along the other side of the backbone, removing it completely.
Flip the chicken over, so the breast, legs, and thighs all face up.
Using the palm of your hand, flatten the breast so the chicken is even in thickness.
Your chicken is now ready to grill or roast.

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