There seems to be dozens of stories behind the origins of the term spatchcock, but the story I like the most is from 1700s Ireland.
It goes like this: When an unexpected visitor would show up out of nowhere — hungry, of course. One would kill a bird, pluck it, remove its backbone so it lays flat, put it in the stove and have it on the table in half the normal roasting time.
Seems legit, right? So why not?
Regardless of the origins of the word, spatchcocking is a great way of roasting a whole bird. The technique dramatically decreases the cooking time. At a cooking temperature of 425F, from the time you start preheating the oven, you can have the chicken prepped, roasted, rested and on the table, in around one hour.
Okay, I’m a professional, trained cook, I did it in an hour, but I’m used to the Exec chef standing over me cracking a whip. Give yourself an hour and a half, maybe two, and no stress, enjoy the journey and enjoy yourself. It’s going to be delicious.
Here’s how I do it:
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 1 Lemon, zested
- Plastic cutting board
- Chef’s knife
- Kitchen shears or scissors
- Large oven proof skillet (nonstick is probably best)
- Instant read thermometer
- Grate or micro-plane
Prepare the chicken
- Preheat oven to 425F
- Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat
- Combine the butter, rosemary and lemon zest
- Place chicken breast-side down, with the legs towards you
- Using kitchen scissors or shears cut along wither side of the backbone to remove it, save the back bone for stock
- Break the wishbone with your knife
- Turn the bird breast side up and just press down with the palm of your hand to make it lay flat.
- Make a shallow incision at the joint between the drumstick and thighs
- Make a shallow incision at the joint between the wings and breast
- Season inside and outside generously with salt, pepper and brush with butter and rosemary
- Place chicken breast side up in the skillet
- After about 4 minutes on the stove, place the skillet in the oven for about 30 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165F in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone)
- When ready, remove the chicken from the skillet place of a cutting board and let rest for about 5-10 minutes covered in aluminum foil.