Spatchcock Chicken from our Test Kitchen

The first time I heard the word “Spatchcock” I felt rushed to defend my intellect and my mind started racing trying to remember where or in what context I could recall this term. At one time I played badminton, but know the birdie used in the game is commonly referred to as the Shuttlecock and know it isn’t a nautical term, mistakenly thinking of a Coxswain – the person in charge of steering a boat. A rooster bred for fighting is a Gamecock, so not this either and being a football fan I also thought of the South Carolina Gamecocks, referring to University of South Carolina sporting teams – but none of these were right.

There are a number of references claiming knowledge of the background and proper use of the term but simply put, to spatchcock refers to the opening of a chicken by removing the backbone and flattening for fast cooking – that nails it and what a terrific idea.

Rivaling the versatility of rice (check out our risotto post) chicken is one of our favorite foods and at least once a month we have spatchcock chicken – spatchcocking the bird is super easy, total prep and cooking time is less than 1 hour and 15 minutes, and flavoring can suite your taste of the day. What you end up with is a crisp on the outside and moist on the inside delicacy. Here are two of our favorite ways to prepare it.

How to spatchcock the chicken (remove the backbone and flattening the bird): Trust me when I say this is more difficult to explain than it is to perform so see youtube below. You can use a sharp knife or kitchen shears – I use the knife method. Placing the bird breast side down and holding the top of the backbone I cut down and through along one side then do the same to the other side and then spread the chicken out skin side up and push down on the back to flatten – 30 seconds or less. Check out this Youtube video which best describes the process using kitchen shears: Someday soon Lillie and I will learn to post our own videos – then there will be trouble – HAH!

One upside down spatchcocked chicken – ready to go

My favorite 2 recipes: Using a 2 ½ to 4 pound chicken

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Method #1

Ingredients: Chicken, Kosher Salt, Fresh Cracked Pepper, Garlic Powder and Olive Oil

  • Brush both sides of the bird with extra virgin olive oil
  • Liberally season the bird on both sides with cracked pepper, kosher salt and garlic powder
  • Place the bird skin side up on a grill covered baking pan – we cover the pan with foil and spray the grill with oil to prevent sticking
  • Place the bird in a preheated oven at 450F and let roast for 45 to 55 minutes
  • The bird is done when crisp and golden brown – if unsure – use an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part and it should read 165 degrees F.
  • Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes under covered foil
  • Separate the legs with backs attached, wings and breasts, cutting the breasts in half for four pieces

We serve this meal with mashed potatoes and broccoli or asparagus with gravy over the potatoes and some of our kids put gravy over the chicken. For the dragon lady’s simple gravy recipe, just ask.

Method #2 – Lemon Chicken in a cast iron pan

Gourmet Grillware Chef Pan


2 Tablespoons olive oil, juice from one lemon and zested and a liberal quantity of oregano, thyme and rosemary to taste. You can substitute or leave out depending on what is in your pantry. This time around we had fresh parsley, lemon thyme, basil and tarragon in the garden, but dried herbs work just as well.

5 regular sized potatoes cut in half

6 large carrots halved and quartered,

4 large cloves of garlic,

Kosher salt and pepper

Freshly squeezed lemon
  • Mix olive oil with lemon juice, lemon zest, thyme, rosemary and oregano and coat both sides of the chicken
Herbs from our garden. Lemon Thyme, Parsley, Tarragon and Basil were on hand this time.
  • Place potatoes and carrots in a bowl and mix with additional olive oil and salt and pepper to taste
Carrots, ready to scrub and slice
Potatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Place chicken skin side up into the cast iron pan on top of the lemon halves and cloves of garlic
  • Place potatoes and carrots around the sides of the chicken
  • Put chicken into the oven for 45 to 55 minutes until golden brown and crisp or until your instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 165 degrees f.
Chicken, potatoes, carrots and herbs over lemons
  • Bring chicken out of the oven and let stand under foil for 5 minutes
  • Separate the legs with backs attached, wings and breasts, cutting the breasts in half for four pieces
Spatchcock chicken ready for the oven

Serve with potatoes and carrots.

We find these two recipes to be delicious and truly only scratch the tip of the iceberg when considering all the possibilities when spatchcocking.

The dragon lady always enjoys her airmiles generating pinot grigio when entertaining with either of these dishes.

Lillie’s pandemic wine stock up


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