Spatchcocked Chicken to the Rescue
Spring is here, which feels like riding a bike downhill with no handlebars. We’ve been running in circles at our house, getting to Little League games, dance recital rehearsals, planning two April birthday parties and trying to figure out what everyone will be doing this summer before all the decent day camps are full. Our dinner routine has gotten rushed, pushed later and pinched into an even more stressful juggling act than usual.
The saving grace? The everyman’s go-to dinner of choice, the roast chicken. To change it up a bit, why not spatchcock it? And for extra entertainment, try saying spatchcock three times after a couple glasses of wine. It simply means that the spine is cut out and the whole bird is flattened so it will cook evenly, and in about 30 minutes.
It also means that the breast meat doesn’t dry out while you’re waiting for the thigh meat to cook. To make things even easier, ask your butcher to spatchcock the bird for you. You can have him package up the spine and make stock at home or toss it in your freezer (after storing it in a freezer bag, of course) to make stock some rainy day soon. At least, after playoffs are over.
To serve the bird, trim off the thighs and wings. The breasts can be cut in quarters. I like to sprinkle lemon juice and a little salt on the chicken when it’s still warm.
Yield 4 -6
Roasting a flattened chicken makes it cook faster, and keeps the meat tender and juicy. Add sliced carrots, shallots or diced potatoes to the sheet pan for an easy meal.
- 1 3-4 pound chicken
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 whole garlic cloves in their skin
- 6-7 basil leaves, chiffonade (optional)
- 1/4 cup flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped (optional)
- 1 lemon, halved
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Place the chicken on a cutting board, breast side down. Use kitchen shears to cut along one side of the backbone, then cut along the other side and remove (reserve for stock if you'd like). Flip chicken over and press firmly on the breastbone to flatten the chicken. You can also ask your butcher to spatchcock the chicken for you.
- Place the chicken skin side up on a half-sheet pan or roasting dish and rub with the olive oil. Make sure some reaches the underside of the chicken so that it doesn't stick to the pan. Sprinkle with kosher salt and tuck garlic cloves near the chicken.
- Roast for about 30-35 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown (a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees in the thickest part of the meat).
- Remove chicken from oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the chiffonade of basil and the juice from half a lemon. To cut into serving pieces, divide the breast meat into two or three portions, carve off the drum sticks and cut the thigh meat in half. Drizzle pan juices over chicken and surround with lemon wedges.