This week I made spatchcock chicken. Perhaps you’ve heard of it and wondered why someone would do that, or maybe you have no clue what it means. Either way, I will dispense with explanations with haste. First, consider the modern chicken. Thanks to some genetic modification and selective breeding, today’s chickens are larger than they used to be, and since they cannot fly long distances, the light meat from a chicken is more tender and cooks faster.
On the other hand, the legs and thighs tend to be fattier and are exercised more, so they need more time. Thus, when you roast a chicken, you likely end up with a drier breast and a moist thigh. So far, I hope this makes sense. The bottom line is that the muscles that get worked take longer to cook than those that do not. This is consistent in all muscle meats, be it beef, pork, lamb, chicken, or turkey, to name a few. Cooks try to overcome this occurrence by checking the temperature in both the breasts and the thigh. Once the breast gets to 170F or 175F, then the thigh should also be close, with the aim of 165F. Then we rest the chicken and let the juices redistribute, and let carryover cooking finish its job, which is to equalize in the bird. So, when you see on TV or on YouTube when cooks wait before cutting open the chicken, it’s so the juices don’t run out, and you lose moisture in the bird.
Now that we have a basis for how a chicken cooks usually, let’s discuss Spatchcocking. This method has the spine removed from the bird, and then it is laid flat on a cooking surface, be it a grill or cooking sheet for the oven. Removing the spine and laying the bird flat allows the dark and light meat to cook evenly because they are in direct heat, unlike when whole chicken is cooked in the oven, and the dark meat is usually facing down. I’ve also written articles on beer can chicken, which uses the moisture from beer to help with cooking. I am just now realizing that I’ve not written about rotisserie or whole roast chicken, but that aside, spatchcocking is one method that allows the chicken to cook more evenly.
1 whole chicken, spine removed
1 TBSP Canola oil
4 – 5 potatoes, quartered or diced
1 onion, large diced
2 big handfuls of mini carrots or 3 large carrots cut into ¼” slices
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- Cut up your potatoes, onions, and carrots (if you’re not using mini carrots) and set them aside.
- Remove the spine from the chicken if your butcher didn’t do it or you bought it from the grocery store.
- Season the inside with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle the oil on the outside and massage it into the chicken.
- Season the outside with salt and pepper.
- Place everything on a baking sheet and season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
- Cook until the chicken reaches 170F in the breast.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the veg to a bowl and pull the meat off the chicken.
- Enjoy with family or friends!