Spatchcocking

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 interior 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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But I found a really heavy press with a handle that I thought would solve the problem.

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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. It needs to lay flat – on its own or with weight on top.

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!

By Published On: July 27th, 201575 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

75 Comments

  1. Linda July 27, 2015 at 9:09 AM - Reply

    Beautifully done! The photos are perfect and the chicken looks delicious :)

    • chef mimi July 27, 2015 at 10:57 AM - Reply

      Thank you! It’s nice to have a perfectly cooked chicken, all of the different parts, and a lovely crispy skin!

  2. sallybr July 27, 2015 at 9:17 AM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi July 27, 2015 at 10:33 AM - Reply

      hmmm. you’ll have to blog about it! i’ve seen an airline cut, but that’s not with a whole chicken. or is it airplane? i don’t know…

  3. Our Foodie Appetite July 27, 2015 at 9:17 AM - Reply

    Oh wow, this is beautiful! And your photography looks great ;) we buy whole chickens from a local farm so I’ll be trying this recipe with it! http://www.ourfoodieappetite.com/east-beach-farmers-market-norfolk-va/

    • chef mimi July 27, 2015 at 10:56 AM - Reply

      How lucky you are!!! I have to order mine online!

  4. spiceinthecity July 27, 2015 at 9:36 AM - Reply

    That chicken looks wonderful! I have never spatchcocked a chicken yet but have wanted to try, so thank you for the detailed photos!

    • chef mimi July 27, 2015 at 10:56 AM - Reply

      Sure! Just look for the tail. I’ve seriously done the spatchcocking upside down!!!

  5. Simply Splendid Food July 27, 2015 at 10:03 AM - Reply

    Spectacular dish. The skin looks so crispy and spicy -good.

  6. anotherfoodieblogger July 27, 2015 at 10:41 AM - Reply

    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!

    • chef mimi July 27, 2015 at 10:55 AM - Reply

      You can use your skillet, and some people wrap a brick with foil. The cooking is so nice and even, that you’ve just got to try it!

  7. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso July 27, 2015 at 11:19 AM - Reply

    This chicken looks delicious! Love the heavy press gadget. I need to get one! I usually use a heavy panini pan for poussin, but it doesn’t work with large chicken as you have here.

  8. Conor Bofin July 27, 2015 at 3:03 PM - Reply

    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

    • chef mimi July 30, 2015 at 8:57 AM - Reply

      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…

  9. Chica Andaluza July 27, 2015 at 3:24 PM - Reply

    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 :)

    • chef mimi July 27, 2015 at 4:17 PM - Reply

      Thank you! Spatchcock is just a weird verb or noun or whatever!

  10. cheergerm July 27, 2015 at 3:34 PM - Reply

    Nice spatchcocking indeed, I am eyeing off that oval pan with a tinge of envy, 😁

  11. eliotthecat July 27, 2015 at 5:28 PM - Reply

    I love that weight. We use a couple of hefty bricks wrapped in foil.

    • chef mimi July 27, 2015 at 5:44 PM - Reply

      I’ve even recommended that to commenters, but I love the ease of the handle!

  12. aranislandgirl July 27, 2015 at 6:13 PM - Reply

    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

  13. The Literate Chef July 27, 2015 at 8:45 PM - Reply

    Beautiful pictures and a scrumptious looking chicken. Thanks for the lesson on spatchcocking, it saved me from having to look up the word. 😀

    • chef mimi July 28, 2015 at 10:13 AM - Reply

      hahaha! I need to find the origin of the word spatchcock…

  14. Nadia July 28, 2015 at 1:51 AM - Reply

    That looks delicious. It is breakfast time here in France but I could happily eat that right now!

    • chef mimi July 28, 2015 at 10:13 AM - Reply

      Well, that’s because there’s nothing better than a freshly roasted chicken, is there?!!!

  15. cookinginsens July 28, 2015 at 3:34 AM - Reply

    Love it.

  16. emmabarrett1508 July 28, 2015 at 5:38 AM - Reply

    Reblogged this on SurreyKitchen and commented:
    Check out this fantastic post on Spatchcocking a chicken from Mimi at http://www.chefmimiblog.com who was surreyKitchen’s first ever follower! Best wishes to her and her beautiful family. Emma xx

    • chef mimi July 28, 2015 at 10:12 AM - Reply

      I was your first follower? I had no idea! Thanks!

      • emmabarrett1508 July 30, 2015 at 11:05 AM

        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

  17. Heather @ Sweet Precision July 28, 2015 at 7:58 AM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi July 28, 2015 at 10:11 AM - Reply

      The bottom is similar, and it’s funny you said that because the bottom of my tagine broke as well!!!

  18. Fine Dining at Home (@fdathome) July 28, 2015 at 3:03 PM - Reply

    I never understand why roast chicken always looks so inviting. Especially a spatchcocked one! Love the invention of the iron press.

    • chef mimi July 30, 2015 at 9:04 AM - Reply

      I know, it is inviting. Overly inviting. I usually start with the thighs, and it’s really hard to stop!

  19. Food from Michelle's kitchen July 28, 2015 at 4:42 PM - Reply

    This is my favourite way to cook a chicken, though to be honest I often leave the back bone in after it’s flattened and just give the chook a good squash with the palm of my hand. Yours looks delightful, love the fancy iron press.

    • chef mimi July 28, 2015 at 5:19 PM - Reply

      You must be stronger and younger than I am! I’ve never been able to do that!

  20. annabelletroy July 28, 2015 at 7:58 PM - Reply

    yum…I think in America we say “butterflying” but “spatchcocking” is a wonderful word!

    • chef mimi July 29, 2015 at 7:31 AM - Reply

      I’m in Oklahoma! Isn’t it funny – I’ve never heard of a butterflyed chicken…

      • annabelletroy July 29, 2015 at 4:40 PM

        oh, gosh, I thought you were British! I have heard British people use that term. Good word, regardless…

  21. Abbe Odenwalder July 28, 2015 at 10:26 PM - Reply

    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!

  22. Our Growing Paynes July 29, 2015 at 3:17 PM - Reply

    Beautifully cooked. I admit I haven’t tried this technique but perhaps I should. :)

    • chef mimi July 30, 2015 at 9:05 AM - Reply

      It just works better than roasting a whole chicken. But then, you can’t stuff it…

  23. StefanGourmet July 29, 2015 at 3:48 PM - Reply

    Your chicken looks great. I’ve always thought spatchcocking to be a funny word.

    • chef mimi July 29, 2015 at 3:49 PM - Reply

      It is a funny word! I wish I’d looked up its origin before writing my post!!!

  24. Mr Fitz July 30, 2015 at 12:37 PM - Reply

    Very nice! Try snipping out the ‘head’ bone can’t think of another word for it! That keeps em flat! http://cookingwithmrfitz.com/?s=Spatchcock&x=0&y=0

    • chef mimi July 30, 2015 at 12:43 PM - Reply

      which post is it? the link goes to multiple posts!

      • Mr Fitz July 30, 2015 at 12:47 PM

        Ahh good point! Apologies! You can feel the bone at the front.. The wishbone bit.. And just behind.. It’s the bit that holds the bird together if that makes sense?

      • chef mimi July 30, 2015 at 1:42 PM

        okay thanks! next time…

  25. camparigirl July 30, 2015 at 6:42 PM - Reply

    Love spatchcocking….that looks really professional…I have used stone bricks!

    • chef mimi July 30, 2015 at 6:43 PM - Reply

      Yeah, I have too! But this thing has a handle!!!

  26. thepaddingtonfoodie July 30, 2015 at 8:49 PM - Reply

    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.

    • chef mimi July 30, 2015 at 9:12 PM - Reply

      Absolutely! I never knew a spatchcock was a noun, and butterfly a verb!!! Thank you for this lovely and interesting comment!

  27. hotlyspiced July 30, 2015 at 9:26 PM - Reply

    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

    • chef mimi July 31, 2015 at 8:05 AM - Reply

      Yes! And the cooking is more even as well!

  28. David Scott Allen August 2, 2015 at 4:50 PM - Reply

    I have never spatchcocked a chicken, although I saw it done a lot in Tuscany using a brick or two wrapped in foil! I love your new gadget and the results look amazing!

    • chef mimi August 2, 2015 at 6:28 PM - Reply

      Thank you! Any well roasted chicken is a wonderful thing!

  29. Lynz Real Cooking August 10, 2015 at 7:31 PM - Reply

    The chicken looks perfect and amazing!

  30. Peter - The Roaming GastroGnome August 12, 2015 at 10:23 AM - Reply

    This is a great way to grill chickens too. Perfect for bbq’s as you get to have plenty of time to socialize and chat while the birds grill/roast. And have some wine!

    • chef mimi August 12, 2015 at 11:21 AM - Reply

      absolutely! I’m glad I finally began using my oven thermometer probe. then there’s no way to drink too much and also forget that there’s something in the oven… which i’ve done…

  31. aranislandgirl November 20, 2015 at 6:49 AM - Reply

    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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