Roasted chicken is not an uncommon staple of Sunday dinners around the world, but it’s not an easy recipe to master. When you cook a whole chicken, its unusual body shape causes hot spots. These hot spots don’t allow the chicken to cook evenly, as the thighs and wings will take longer to cook. By the time the dark meat has finished cooking, the chicken breasts are overcooked and dry.
How do you ensure even heat dispersal when roasting your bird?
It’s easy and it’s called the “Spatchcock” method. I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject. In fact, I haven’t a goddamn clue what a “Spatchcock” even is or where the term came from. The only part I understand is that it’s a method of butterflying your chicken and it succeeds in keeping all portions of the chicken moist and juicy while still fully cooking the meat.
- 1 whole chicken
- 4 red potatoes
- 4 whole carrots
- A spice mixture of your choosing
- 4 T of butter
- 2 T of olive oil
- A roasting pan with a rack
- Chicken stock
Step 1: Prepare Your Chicken
The first thing you’ll need to do is get your chicken ready for cooking. Make sure the inside and outside are fully defrosted.
Remove the chicken from its packaging in a clean, empty sink. Let the juices drip down the drain, so as not to come in contact with anything else in your kitchen. Reach inside the chicken and pull out the giblets. Sometimes these are kept in a small plastic bag. Remove and set aside.
Take a sharp knife or, in my case, a pair of kitchen sheers and cut the length of the chicken on either side of the tail. This will remove the backbone. Put the backbone aside with the giblets. Do not throw these pieces out. Freeze them. They’re absolutely essential to crafting your own homemade chicken stock.
After removing the backbone, run your knife down the length of the middle of the chicken’s body cavity, using a little bit of elbow grease to force your knife through the keel bone. It’s necessary to split, break, or remove this bone so that the chicken can be fully flattened.
After severing or removing the keel bone, flip the chicken over and press it down. You may hear a slight cracking sound as you flatten out the body of the chicken. This is necessary because now the chicken is flat enough to cook evenly.
Take the wing tips and fold them behind the chicken, almost as if the chicken is lying on the beach showing off. This will make for a nicer presentation and prevent the wing tips from burning.
Step 2: Rub Down Your Chicken
Place the entire chicken, skin side up, into a roasting pan with a metal rack. The metal rack is important as it will allow for convection. The air will circulate around the chicken, cooking it evenly on all sides and shortening the time it takes to heat up internally.
Coat the chicken liberally with butter and olive oil, making sure to rub it on both the top and bottom and all the little crevices. This will allow the skin to brown nicely and will help the spice rub adhere to the outside. Don’t forget to place some of the oil and butter under the skin as well.
Take your prepared spice rub (or make your own!) and spread it liberally on both sides of the chicken. Save a few pinches and set them aside.
Step 3: Eat Your Vegetables
Peel your carrots, rinse your potatoes and chop them both into bite size pieces on a large cutting board. Take the reserved pinches of spice rub and sprinkle them on top of the vegetables.
Place the vegetables under the rack directly beneath the chicken. While this beautiful bird cooks, its juices as well as the extra butter and olive oil left on the outside will drip down onto the vegetables and make them extra delicious.
Step 4: It’s Time to Cook
Place the roasting pan in a preheated 400 degree oven and roast for 45 minutes to an hour (depending on the size of your chicken).
The easiest way to tell when it is done is to buy a probe thermometer and set it to 160 degrees. The recommended internal temperature for chicken is 165 degrees, but don’t forget about carryover cooking. When you take something hot out of the oven, it will still raise 5 to 10 degrees as it continues to cook on the inside.
Step 5: The Gravy Train
The best part about roasting any kind of meat is utilizing those delicious pan drippings. Don’t let these go to waste.
Remove the chicken, vegetables, and rack from the roasting pan and place the pan across two burners. Make sure you’re using a metal pan!
Set the heat to low and add some flour and a tablespoon of butter to the drippings left in the pan. Whisk vigorously while you cook down the flour until it is a golden color.
In order to prevent lumps, continue to whisk as you add chicken stock to the mixture. The choice is up to your preferences, but I’d recommend making the gravy a tad more watery than you’d like, as it will thicken considerably upon standing.
When the gravy is complete, pour it into a Pyrex measuring cup or gravy boat and serve.
Some people choose to strain their gravy, but I find it unnecessary. I like the little chicken tidbits.
Let the chicken rest and carve it up like you would any kind of roast chicken and serve with the vegetables and gravy.
Congratulations, you’ve made your first Spatchcock chicken!
Do you have any other recipes you’d like to share? Do you have any alterations to this recipe that you’d love other people to hear about?
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