Spatchcocking

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I haven’t spatchcocked a chicken in almost 3 years. I know this because I discovered an old post on one from early in my blogging career. It was deleted because, like so many others, the photography was dreadful in those “early” days. But there’s also another reason.

Before, when I made a spatchcock chicken, I used a wonderful pan called a mattone. It was a flat-bottomed shallow clay pan with a glazed interio and a heavy flat lid. It was perfect for a small spatchcock chicken or poussin. Sadly, though, the bottom cracked, and I can’t find a mattone anywhere online.
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I found a really heavy press with a handle.
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Even after removing the chicken’s backbone, which is the whole point of a spatchcocked chicken, it can pop up instead of staying flat. This defeats the whole concept of cooking a uniformly thick chicken. That’s what happened when I tried a spatchcock chicken without a heavy press on top. I love this photo!

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So I set out to try out my new gadget. To spatchcock a chicken, get a good, whole chicken. Then to remove the backbone, use really good poultry shears. You first have to figure out what side of the chicken is the back, because I made that mistake once. The best hint is the little tail sticking out!

Cut up one side of the tail along the backbone, then do the other side.

Turn the chicken over and flatten it with your hands. You’ll hear a little crunch.
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There are many different ways to cook a spatchcock chicken, like outside on the grill, on the stove, or in the oven. Outside was out for me, with a heat index of 105 degrees. So I decided to do the browning on the stove, and finish the cooking in the oven at 350 degrees. 325 degrees would also work.

I first seasoned the chicken well, after patting the top and bottom dry with paper towels. I decided on duck fat, and melted some in my large flat griddle, and added some freshly cut thyme and rosemary.

I turned the heat to the highest setting and when the duck fat was hot I added the spatchcock chicken. Then I used my lid. Ingenious!
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After about 4-5 minutes, I turned the chicken over, replaced the lid, and browned the other side.

Then I put the griddle in the oven, and used a probe. I removed the chicken from the griddle after 155 degrees was reached, according to the probe and placed it to cool on a cutting board. See? Nice and flat!
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Using a large knife or cleaver, cut the chicken into pieces and serve.

You can see that the chicken is juicy, but also nicely browned.

I served it with a rosé, and it was a perfect combination. Although, I’ll probably not purchase this rosé again. It was a bit too sweet.
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note: I really love my oval Le Creuset skillet, found here on the Williams-Sonoma website. Sometimes you just need oval, and not round!

75 thoughts on “Spatchcocking

  1. Wonderful, Mimi!

    now did you know that you can also “leapfrog” a chicken? Learned that one this past weekend from a friend (not a blogger, but an avid cook who lives in Stillwater, not too too far from you then)

    anyway, you cut the chicken above the legs and open it that way, kind of hard to explain it, but my friend says it turns out perfect, she does a low roasting followed by high heat to crisp up the skin.

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  2. I have never spatchcocked a chicken either, but I also don’t have a gadget to press it with. I guess I could use my deep-dish cast iron skillet as a weight, as it is certainly heavy enough. I can’t even lift it with one hand! Your chicken looks delicious with all those fresh herbs, yumm!

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  3. Excellent post Mimi. I love how you admit to your failures (particularly as it gave such a rude looking photo). I use two skewers on the diagonal to hold the bird flat once I have cracked the breast bone. That works for me when barbecuing but, I suspect it may not work in a smaller indoor pot.
    Stay well,
    Conor

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    • Oh, that’s very smart. When my husband grills outside, he tends to overcook everything, even though he continuously stabs the meat with a thermometer, which is another annoyance of mine. I’ve done some grilling, but don’t like being outside where I live unless it’s under 70 degrees F, so that sadly cuts out all of the summer months, part of fall, and part of spring. So I just keep cooking inside…

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  4. Gorgeous and a bizarre coincidence as I was doing a roast chicken yesterday and was running late so spatchcocked it (is that a verb or just a rude sounding word?!). It cooked so quicky we were right back on track. Stunning photos :)

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  5. Oh my goodness Mimi, I must try this! I not only learned a new way to prepare chicken , but a wonderfully fun new word to describe the technique. We have several that will be ready for the table soon and this has me so darned curious I am definitely going to give it a go.. I have nesting cast iron pans so they will be my pan and my weight. Great post! Tx, Melissa

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      • Yes you were Mimi. Sorry its taken me so long to respond, but being a new mum is a busy time as you well know. I hope your gorgeous new granddaughter is well. Im still determined to get out to see Stephan in France one day. Wasn’t his last post on shrimps wonderful. Take care Mimi. Emma xx

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  6. What a lovely looking dish! Your mattone pan sort of reminds me of a tagine pot in a way. I’ve never actually heard of spatchcocking before but I love how it creates such a crispy outside on the chicken. I can imagine it makes the overall cooking process go a little quicker as well.

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  7. Glorious, Mimi! I spatchcock quite often because it is faster and I just use a brick. I love that gadget, though and may have to splurge. This looks like one fantastic chicken and what a great tutorial!

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  8. Isn’t it interesting how a word can mean something entirely different in another country. I buy spatchcocks (small poussin sized chickens) and ‘butterfly’ (remove the backbone and flatten) regularly. In the summer we cover them with a wide sheet of baking paper or foil and weigh them down with a row of bricks on the grill to keep them perfectly flat. Your spatchcocked birds look delicious Mimi.

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  9. Your chicken is so golden and I love how you cooked it. I must get myself a pair of poultry scissors like yours! I do love to cook chicken this way because it cuts down on the cooking time which is terrific if you always seem to be chasing the clock xx

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  10. Just removed the backbone and ‘cracked’ flat one of our own birds killed earlier this week. Now off to the garden for fresh herbs. So excited to FINALLY be making this!! Thanks for super tutorial. Cheers, Melissa Xx

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