Have you ever spatchcocked a chicken before? It’s surprisingly easy! It’s also exactly the same as butterflying a chicken, but with a name that is way more fun to say.
There are two major advantages to spatchcocking a chicken that, for me, put this method head and shoulders above all others.
First of all, even cooking. For a spatchcocked chicken, you remove the backbone and open up the chicken so it lies it flat for cooking. This means that the breast meat and the thigh meat are on the same horizontal plane, so both cook at pretty much the same rate.
This means no more waiting around for the thighs to finish cooking while the chicken breasts dry out. Which means that the white meat and the dark meat lovers in your family will all be very happy.
Second, lots and lots of crispy skin. Since the vast majority of the skin is exposed and facing upward, you don’t wind up with those flabby, sad areas on the undersides of the thighs and drumsticks. All crispy, all the time.
Most butchers will spatchcock a chicken for you at no charge, but truthfully, it’s really easy to do at home. It will make you feel like a boss, and all you need is a strong pair of kitchen shears (I love my OXO shears).
Turn the bird over so the breasts are down and you’re looking at the back. See the backbone? You’re going to cut along both sides of that backbone to remove it.
You can go from the top of the chicken or the bottom; just pick a direction and go for it.
Now, you’ll need to exert a bit of force to cut through the rib bones, but I’m always surprised at how not-terribly-hard this is to do. Make sure you’re cutting near the pivot point of your scissors, where the two blades are screwed together. You’ll have the most force here; don’t try to snip with the tips of the scissors.
Cut all the way up one side of the backbone, and then all the way up the other. Remember, you’re cutting beside the backbone, not actually through it. Once the backbone has been cut free, lift it out and set it aside. (It’s great for making chicken stock.)
Use your hands to open up the chicken a little bit, and then flip it over so that the breasts are now facing up. Use the palm of your hand and press firmly down on the breast meat, right over the breast bone. You should hear a little bit of crunching.
The goal here is to flatten this area so that the breasts and the thighs are basically at the same level. Some pros recommend snipping the cartilage beneath the breast bone or even entirely removing the wish bone. This does help the chicken to lay more flat, but personally, I don’t feel like the extra fuss makes a huge difference in how the chicken cooks.
And now you have a perfectly spatchcocked chicken! From here, you can either roast it or grill it. I’ve included some very basic roasting instructions below, which you can certainly gussy up as much as you like.
Still a bit nervous? Just watch the video below!