What in the world is a spatchcocked chicken?
Welp, it’s actually just a fancy word for a butterflied chicken and it means you cut the backbone out of the chicken and flatten it out before roasting.
This helps the bird to cook more evenly, and also greatly reduces the overall cooking time (For a chicken, 45 minutes in the oven and boom! It’s done.), which is particularly helpful when you’re roasting something ginormous like a turkey.
(If you want to spatchcock your turkey like I did last year, follow NomNomPaleo’s guide. I’d never roasted a turkey before and mine turned out great!)
At any rate, spatchcocking is pretty fabulous even just for your everyday chicken.
Also fabulous: salting your bird.
Salting is sometimes referred to as a dry brine, because it accomplishes the same purpose (making the meat juicy and flavorful) via the same means (salt) without the water.
You do have to let the bird sit, butterflied and salted, for 4-24 hours before roasting. This is slightly annoying, mostly because you have to find room in your fridge for a pan the size of a butterflied bird.
Jo would not find this challenging; I do.
Ok, so, here’s what you do.
You’ll need a chicken, obviously. This one’s from Aldi, but basically any chicken will do.
And you’ll need a kitchen scissors, plus a whole bunch of salt, a little paprika, and some pepper.
Lay the bird out on your cutting board, backbone side up, and use your scissors to snip out the backbone.
This is, not gonna lie, a little bit difficult.
Or maybe I just need to sharpen my scissors.
At any rate, it is not nearly as hard as cutting out the backbone of a turkey. So if you do that first, and then do a chicken, you will suddenly feel this is a walk in the park.
SAVE THE BACKBONE.
You can use it later to make some mahhhhh-velous broth, along with the bones and such from the roasted chicken.
(I will write a blog post next week about how I make my broth, since many of you asked.)
Ok. Turn your chicken over, and press down firmly on the breast to flatten the bird as much as possible.
Again, this is not particularly challenging with a chicken.
You need some muscle for that.
Every chicken-roasting recipe I’ve ever seen says to “tuck the wing tips under” and no matter how many times I do that, they always pop out at some point during the cooking process.
I don’t even bother anymore and nothing seems to have gone wrong in the universe, so I have concluded that wing-tip-tucking is overrated.
Take your now-flattened chicken and rub the salt/paprika/pepper mixture alll over. For bonus points (and tastier chicken), gently lift up the skin by the breasts and thighs and rub some of the spice mixture directly on the chicken meat.
Place the chicken on a wire rack atop a rimmed pan.
Next, open your fridge, survey the packed shelves, and conclude that there is no way a chicken is going to fit.
Then, frantically rearrange All Of The Things in the fridge, feel smug about your fridge-packing skillz, and refrigerate the chicken.
Leave the chicken there overnight, or up to 24 hours.
When you’re ready to roast the bird, heat your oven to 400 °F and get out a cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet.
I use the one I bought at Aldi.
(Which reminds me: Aldi has the cast-iron line available this week. I saw them in the store myself. Go get one!!)
Heat it over medium heat on the stove with a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is nearly smoking, put the bird in, skin side down, and let it get nice and brown.
Once it’s browned (this takes about 5 minutes), it should release from the pan pretty easily. Flip it over, and then place it in the oven.
Roast for about 45 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 160 °F to 165 °F in the breast, and 170 °F or higher in the joint between the thigh and the drumstick.
Remove the chicken from the pan, and drain the juices/rendered fat from the pan into a bowl.
(Don’t get rid of the fat if you want to make gravy!)
To keep the chicken warm while it rests and while you whip up some gravy, you can tent it with aluminum foil. I never do this because, um, hi, I’m cheap.
And maybe a little bit lazy.
And my family doesn’t care if their chicken is less than piping hot.
Make the gravy right in the same pan you just used because there are delicious browned bits in there which you want for your gravy if you are at all sensible.
I use the pan gravy recipe from my trusty old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and it is not complicated.
In fact, I am regularly confused when people think gravy is way too hard to make at home. If you can operate a whisk or spatula, you really can make gravy.
You just melt chicken fat (yours will be hot already, so no need to melt), stir in flour, stir in the milk, broth, or water (I use milk), being sure to whisk out any lumps, and cook until the gravy thickens.
You’ll want to season it with salt and pepper, but for the most part, it will already be delicious and flavorful because
A) Chicken fat
B) Browned bits from the bottom of the pan
Once your gravy is done, cut up the chicken, and serve it with the gravy.
Please excuse the not-exactly-award-winning photo of the chicken. The early darkness of fall and winter are conspiring against me to make my blog photos 73% more horrible.
Stay with me, people! Things will look more appetizing around here in the spring.
Anyhoo. Serve the chicken with the gravy.
And once you’ve finished enjoying your juicy, flavorful chicken, set aside the bones/skin, because we’ll use those to make broth next week.
(If you have leftover meat, save it for making chicken noodle soup. )
Salted, Spatchcocked, Cast-Iron Roasted Chicken
1 4-pound chicken (you can use a larger chicken-just adjust salt/spices accordingly)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Remove the giblets from the chicken, pat dry, and place on cutting board. Using a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, cut through backbone on both sides and removed from chicken, reserving for broth if desired.
Turn chicken over, and press down firmly on breastbone to flatten.
Combine salt, paprika, and pepper, and rub evenly all over surface of chicken. Gently lift skin around thighs and breasts, and rub some of the salt mixture directly on the skin.
Place chicken on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate 4-24 hours.
When ready to cook, heat oven to 400 ° F.
Heat a cast-iron skillet (or other heavy oven-safe skillet) over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of oil, and swirl the pan to distribute evenly. Place the chicken in the skillet, skin-side down, and let sear for about 5 minutes. Flip chicken over carefully, and place pan in oven.
Roast chicken for about 40-45 minutes, or until the meat reaches 160 °F to 165 °F in the breast, and 170 °F or higher in the joint between the thigh and the drumstick.
Remove chicken from pan and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Let chicken rest 10 minutes before carving.
Gravy (makes 2 cups)
1/4 cup pan drippings (fat)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups broth, water, or milk
Carefully pour chicken fat from skillet into a small bowl, and place skillet on stove over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup pan drippings into skillet; stir in flour. Stirring constantly, add broth, water, or milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir one minute more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Roasted Chicken Recipe Creds: Method is originally from Judy Rodgers, but I found it on Dad Cooks Dinner.
Thursday 7th of May 2020
I'm making this tonight! :)
Sunday 13th of January 2019
I bought a chicken and had it spatchcocked because we have a very reasonable local butcher whose shop I like to try to keep in business. It was done at no extra charge and I used the backbone for broth. Thanks for the tip.
Wednesday 9th of May 2018
My husband did this and even though he skipped the browning part, it came out soooo moist. I loved it!
Millicent Borges Accardi
Friday 6th of April 2018
My husband saw your chicken and asked, How does she split up 8 pieces of chicken amongst six people? So I thought I'd ask-- since even when we have a family gathering, one chicken is usually not enough for four people, especially when there are teenagers! Do you cook two chickens?
Friday 6th of April 2018
Well, if we're all here, one chicken isn't enough. But last night, not everyone was home...there were only four of us. So the single chicken worked out fine!
Monday 13th of November 2017
Not sure if you’ll ever get this comment because this post is rather dated but do you cover the chicken with anything when you put it in the frig?
Monday 13th of November 2017
Nope, I just leave it out in the open. Generally when you salt a piece of meat like that, you just leave it exposed to the air. Part of the idea is to dry out the skin so it gets nice and crispy when you bake it.