According to Merriam-Webster, Spatchcock is defined as a fowl split and grilled immediately after being killed and dressed. This proved to be an efficient way of cooking the fowl and over time, it has been widely adapted as a cooking method. Basically you remove the backbone from tail to neck and snap the breast bone so you can lay the bird flat. You can cook it on a grill, stove top or roast in the oven. What are the benefits? Shorter cooking time, crispy skin all around since the skin surface is completely exposed, even cooking throughout and much easier to season your bird. You can spatchcock any bird/fowl such as chicken, capon (castrated male chicken), goose, duck, quail, pheasant, Cornish hen and turkey!
SPATCHCOCK VS. BUTTERFLY
Spatchcocking involves the whole bird. You split it lengthwise down the back and press the whole bird flat.
Butterflying involves a horizontal cut that is deep enough to create a book-like opening without cutting all the way through – so you double the surface and reduce the thickness by half. You can butterfly chicken breast, steak, shrimp, pork, fish, etc.
HOW TO SPATCHCOCK A BIRD
Rinse, empty out all the contents in the cavity (neck, gizzards and any other packet that may be inside) and pat dry the bird with paper towels. Place the bird breast down on the cutting board and using kitchen scissors, cut along the right side of the backbone from tail to neck and then cut along the left side.
You can discard the backbone, or keep to make chicken stock. Some freeze it for future use, I personally discard them. Now you need crack the breastbone so the breast can truly lay flat. Turn the bird breast side up and apply equal pressure over both wings and breast area until you hear a crack and the breast flattens. You can trim the wing tips so they don’t burn, but I just tuck them under.
I like to remove the ribs and breast bone. If I’m going through all this trouble, I might as well remove the ribs and breast bone while I’m at it. Now that’s just my personal preference, it’s not a step you need to follow. Using the kitchen scissors, I work around the small rib bones and thin membrane to remove the ribs. Then I loosen the breast bone around the neck and pull back the breast bone completely. Now the bird will lay completely flat, cook evenly and I don’t have to worry about bones when I’m carving and serving.
Season your chicken according to your preference. Your family and guests will love how crispy the skin gets all around. It’s a wonderful way of cooking a whole chicken.
Need a recipe? Try my Roasted Chicken Provencal. I’ll update this post and link other recipes as I upload them.
Note: Yes, I rinse my chicken. I know this is controversial, so please no comments telling me how bad or unsanitary it is. The chicken liquid makes me sick and it looks like slime. If I could scrub the chicken with Palmolive, I would – what does that tell you? LOL. Grandma and mom also rinsed their chickens and no one ever got sick. I’m very careful whenever I handle chicken and I’ve never had a bacteria issue or cross contamination incident. If you don’t want to rinse, don’t. Do what makes you comfortable. I’m just sharing how I do it.