Spatchcock, spatchcock, spatchcock. Are you getting the idea that I’m only posting this because I like to say spatchcock (heehee)? Yeah, that’s got a lot to do with it (apparently my inner child is a 13-year old boy), but more important, this chicken is delicious!
To spatchcock (snort) a chicken, is to cut out the backbone and flatten it. This will ensure the bird roasts evenly, so the thigh is cooked through and the breast is still juicy. You also get crispy skin on the entire bird, and because it’s flattened, it roasts much more quickly than a whole bird.
In order to spatchcock (giggity – OK, I think I’m done now), place the bird, breast down, on a cutting board. With heavy-duty kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone and remove. Reserve the backbone for stock.* Flip the bird over, place the heel of your hand on top of the breastbone, place your other hand on top of that hand, and push down – HARD – to crack the breastbone. You now have a beautifully spatchcocked chicken!
By the way, this technique is also called butterflying. This is not nearly as fun to say, and therefore, will not be used here.
You’ll want to use a neutral oil for your paste, and one that can take high heat. Grape seed oil is an excellent, but expensive choice; canola oil is a solid choice, and easy to find; rice bran oil can withstand high temperatures, and is my go-to for high temperature cooking. You can season your bird any way you like; here are some of my favorites to make a paste with:
Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, lemon juice
Sage, thyme, salt and pepper to taste
Chinese five spice powder, orange juice, dash of soy sauce
Rosemary, fresh minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste
Cabela’s Sweet Rib Rub, garlic powder
*Reserving parts and pieces for stock: You have a stock bag, right? You know, the big zip top bag where you place all your bones and bits till it’s time to make stock? You don’t?!? Well, you can start now! Place the reserved back bone and your chicken carcass in a freezer-duty zip top bag, and place in freezer. Ta-dah!!
I roast my bird on top of some cubed potatoes. It rids me of the need to use – and then clean – my roasting rack, and my potatoes benefit from all the drippings from the chicken. Because there is a lot of oil in the wet rub, and fat from the chicken, I don’t toss the potatoes in oil ahead of time; they still turned out crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Spatchcocked Chicken with Roasted Potatoes
1/4 cup seasoning
1/4 cup rice bran oil
1 Tablespoon fruit juice (if using)
1 (4-5) pound chicken, spatchcocked as described above
3-4 medium potatoes (I used unpeeled russets), cubed, rinsed, and pat-dried with paper towel
Mix together your seasoning, oil and juice (if using) to make a wet rub. If it is too thick, use a little more oil; you want it to be a little runny.
Pat dry the spatchcocked chicken thoroughly with paper towels and place in a large bowl. Gently run your finger between the skin and meat of the thigh, leg, and breast; be careful not to tear the skin. With your fingers or a small spoon, place some rub under the skin. Rub the rest of the mixture on the outside of the bird, all over. Massage it a bit to get the rub under the skin distributed. Place the bird in the refrigerator overnight, uncovered. This will help to tighten the skin, resulting in crispier skin. You may need to squish and squeeze the bird a bit to make it fit your bowl; this is fine, you just want as much skin exposed to the air as possible.
Take the bird out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before roasting.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Lightly oil or spray a large roasting pan. Spread cubed potatoes in the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken, skin side up, on top of the potatoes. Place the roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven.
Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the breast and of the thigh, about 35-45 minutes. Be careful not to touch the bone when testing doneness, as the bone will be hotter than the meat.
Remove the chicken to a plate, tent with tinfoil and set aside to rest, about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the potatoes about with a wooden or silicone spoon, scraping up any brown bits. Place the roasting pan back in the oven and continue roasting until the potatoes have crisped up a bit.
With a sharp knife, cut the leg quarter (thigh and leg) away from the breast of the chicken. Cut the leg from the thigh at the joint. Cut the wing away from the breast. At the base of one side of the breast, slice horizontally until you hit the breastbone. Slice vertically at the breastbone to the horizontal cut you made, until you can remove one entire breast. Repeat with the other side. Cut the breast into slices.
Plate some potatoes and chicken, serve, and prepare for the compliments!