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Everyone who wants to be considered a good cook should have a trusted recipe for roasted, grilled or barbecued chicken. Fortunately, when you spatchcock a chicken, you get a unique way to cook chicken faster with excellent results — regardless of your preference for seasonings.
A spatchcock chicken recipe involves butterflying a chicken, removing the backbone and flattening it. Spatchcocking a chicken creates a uniform surface, speeds cooking time and results in a more evenly cooked bird with a larger percentage of crispy skin. You can use the spatchcocking technique for oven roasting, outdoor grilling, barbecuing, smoking and other favorite cooking techniques.
Why Spatchcocking Is Better
Many families are staying home these days, and some people are cooking extensively for the first time. Spatchcocking is a classic technique that can be used in any chicken or fowl recipe, and it has special appeal for new cooks. Whole roasted chicken is certainly one of the easiest recipes, but there are lots of problems inexperienced cooks discover.
Roasted chicken often has dry breast meat and underdone thighs, and the skin doesn’t crisp up except on the top part of the bird. Spatchcock chicken always delivers a crispy, golden crust and moist, tender meat. The technique is almost as simple as roasting a whole chicken, and it’s easy to season the bird to your taste with barbecue spices, smoky flavors and your favorite seasonings and marinades. Spatchcocking always reduces total cooking time and results in more even cooking.
How to Spatchcock a Chicken
You’ll be astonished how this simple technique improves your cooking results because it results in less cooking time and a moister, juicier bird that’s full of flavor. You can use the technique with other types of birds like turkey, pheasant, quail and others. The whole bird lays flat to provide maximum heat exposure. The step-by-step technique includes the following steps:
1. Remove Backbone
Using a sharp knife and a stable cutting surface, cut along both sides of the backbone. Kitchen shears also work well. Remove the backbone, and save it for making stock. Spread the chicken flat with the skin side down.
2. Cut Through the Breastbone
Cut through the breastbone in the cavity without breaking all the way through the skin. Cut the flexible cartilage, but don’t cut through the meat and skin. The chicken can now be turned over and mashed flat.
3. Trim the Wings
Trim the first joint of the wings because these have little meat and tend to burn. Add the wing tips, giblets and neck to your stock ingredients.
4. Season the Chicken
You now have a flattened whole chicken suitable for roasting or the grill. You can prep the chicken to this point for cooking. Many chefs now season the bird, apply a wet or dry rub, marinate the chicken or brine the chicken in a salt and sugar solution.
You can marinate your poultry using any of your favorite ingredients. Most marinades include an acid, something sweet and something spicy. An example of a good marinade includes:
- 3 lemons
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- Choice of two or three chili peppers
- 3 crushed cloves garlic
- 1 chopped bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons molasses
Char peppers to blacken, and place them in a paper bag or covered bowl to steam. Juice the lemons, add lemon zest and peel the blackened skin from the peppers and chop them. Mix all ingredients, and rub them over the chicken. You can let the chicken marinate up to an hour or cook the seasoned chicken immediately.
Brining makes chicken fork tender and moist. Add ½ cup kosher salt and ½ cup sugar to 2 cups water, and bring to a boil to dissolve. Add to 10 cups icy cold water. Add prepared spatchcock chicken and refrigerate for 20 minutes up to 2 hours. Rinse chicken before cooking, and season as desired.
Once you learn how to spatchcock a chicken, you can use the technique to speed up any cooking process. Roasting times run between 25 percent to 35 percent faster. The same is true for grilling and barbecuing. It’s like a magic formula that prevents breast meat from drying out while thighs and legs cook perfectly.
Time, temperature and seasoning are the three elements that grill masters and accomplished chefs need to perfect for producing some of the best chicken dishes guests will ever enjoy. The ThermoPro Meat Thermometer provides precision control — whether you cook in an over, on a grill or in a smoker. The selection of thermometers includes instant-read thermometers, wireless thermometers and digital thermometers, which are perfect for the grill, oven or smoker.
You can reduce cooking time when preparing spatchcock chicken in any way. The chicken cooks evenly and retains juicy moisture. All you need to do is apply your favorite spices and marinating techniques.
How to Cook Spatchcock Chicken on a Grill
Spatchcock chicken grill recipes include fabulous spatchcock chicken BBQ, brined chicken and simple grilled chicken dishes. Grilling a whole chicken to perfection makes a dramatic presentation at an important dinner party, and carving the flattened chicken is quick and easy.
If you’re cooking your chicken on an indoor or outdoor grill, the following steps deliver perfect results every time:
If using a gas grill, set it at medium-high for the first 8 to 10 minutes to produce a golden skin caramelization, and lower the temperature to low. Flip the chicken after 5 to 10 more minutes and continue cooking over indirect heat until your thermometer registers 165 degrees.
If using charcoal, place over indirect heat for 30 to 40 minutes.
Move chicken to the hottest part of the grill to caramelize the skin and produce a char if desired. Cook 5 to 10 minutes longer until your thermometer reaches 165 degrees.
Remove chicken from the grill, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving and serving. Lovely Chars, Golden Skin and Perfect Doneness.
Many butchers are willing to spatchcock a chicken for you, but it’s not difficult to do. Once you learn the technique, you can apply it to most of your chicken recipes for faster and better tasting results consistently. You just need a good thermometer, reliable heat source and your favorite side dishes to produce a showy banquet that looks incredible. The ThermoPro Meat Thermometer works great, and the prices are reasonable. You never have to serve roasted or grilled chicken with a few blackened spots and pale white flesh ever again.