Cooking Techniques: Making A Spatchcock Chicken
By Melissa Schneider February 16, 2013 No Comments
For some reason, cooking a whole chicken has always intimidated me a bit. I’m very comfortable converting a package of chicken breasts into a tasty dinner, and I don’t even mind cutting a whole bird up into parts for the freezer. But when I’m expected to convert the whole bird into a single dish, it just always feels like a big undertaking, something requiring research, the loosening of skin, challenging butter rubs, and lots of cracked pepper. In short, it’s an endeavor best reserved for holidays or dinner parties. Just recently, though, I learned how to make a spatchcock chicken, a cooking technique in which you cut out the backbone, open the bird like a book, and flatten him (or her) down a notch. This method helps the chicken cook more quickly and evenly, plus it won’t take up as much vertical space in your oven, it’s easier to carve, and you can even grill this way. Somehow, it makes a whole chicken seem like something I could handle on a Tuesday, and I am grateful for that. So, grab your kitchen shears, and let’s get to work!
Rosemary-Lemon Spatchcock Chicken with Vegetables
- 1 whole chicken (2-3 pounds)
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 ½ pounds red potatoes, quartered or sliced thick
- 1 large red onion, cut into eight wedges
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
1. Preheat oven to 450°. In a blender, mix the lemon juice, oil, garlic, and rosemary sprigs, adding salt and pepper to taste. Puree until marinade is smooth, set aside.
2. Now for the chicken. First, lay the bird on a flat surface, breast-side down, with the legs facing away from you. The back side, which is bonier, should be facing up. Use kitchen shears or a sharp boning knife to entirely remove the backbone. This is best done by cutting closely along the spine, all the way from the flap of skin at the neck down to the butt and then repeating up the other side. (Don’t discard the bones; just pop them into a gallon freezer bag to make chicken stock at some later date.) Finally, flip the chicken over so the breast is facing up, and press firmly on the breastbone with the palm of your hand. You will hear a few cracks as the bird flattens down. Congratulations, you have a spatchcock chicken! You can prepare your newly-flattened chicken any way you like, but this is one recipe I have enjoyed.
3. Place the chicken into a large bag or large bowl, pour half the marinade over it, and do your best to coat the bird entirely. Let marinate for at least fifteen minutes at room temperature (or cover and refrigerate for up to twenty-four hours). Lift chicken from marinade and place on a large rimmed baking sheet.
4. Meanwhile, on another large rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes with the reserved marinade and season them with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Place both baking sheets in oven, with chicken on top rack. After twenty minutes, rotate sheets from top to bottom. Ten minutes later, scatter the tomatoes and onions over the potatoes. Continue roasting about ten minutes more, until chicken is cooked through (instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part, avoiding bone, should read 165°) and potatoes are golden and tender. Serve and enjoy!