Yes to Yummy

Spatchcocked Chicken

January 29, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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The name might sound a little silly, but don’t let it fool you: this is undeniably one of the easiest, best-tasting roast chickens you will ever have.

When you roast a whole chicken, often times, the breast reaches optimal temperature waaaaaaay before the legs. What’s a cook to do: have under-cooked dark meat, or overcooked white meat? For safety’s sake, most will usually go for the latter option, leaving two unlucky people in the family with dry, flavorless chicken while the other two happily gnaw away at the juicy thigh and drumstick meat. UNFAIR!

The big problem here is that the breast meat is elevated, leading to it cooking faster and drying out much more easily. Sure, you might get crispy skin on top, but the juices from the meat will drip down into the lower part of the bird or the pan.

So, is there a way to have the best of both worlds? Good dark meat AND white meat without dryness? You know, without having a huge pot in your fridge to brine the chicken or a funky device in your oven?

Yes, yes there is.

Behold, the spatchcocked chicken.

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By removing the backbone and flattening the chicken, you ensure that the breast and the legs will cook evenly, all while getting a crispy skin on the outside. It’s a win for everybody, even if you get stuck with white meat for leftovers!

This chicken is a staple in my house, especially on busy nights when I just want to throw a bunch of stuff in the oven and walk away. I promise you: IT’S EASY! It might sound intimidating, but really, it’ll take five minutes and all you’ll need is a pair of kitchen sheers.

Before we get into the recipe, let’s have a flashback moment. This was the VERY FIRST recipe I posted on Yes to Yummy, way back last April on my tumblr blog! Aaw, I was so cute…what did I know?

Now that I know how to use a camera and post tags, let’s make this tasty bird! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a redo.

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Another trick to even cooking is to bring the bird to room temperature, so 1 hour before you want to put the chicken in the oven (so approximately 2 hours before you want to eat), take out your chicken. Pour a bunch of salt into a small dish and set aside while you cut out the backbone.

From the position pictured above, flip the chicken over so its backbone (NOT its breast) is facing up. Using a pair of sharp kitchen sheers (much easier than knives), cut down either side of the backbone to remove it. It won’t be perfect, and that’s OK! No one is going to care how precise your cuts are; the goal is to get that backbone outta there.

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This is what your bird will look like once you’ve cut out the backbone. I actually did a pretty good job this time; sometimes, my cutting board will be a disaster area. You can either use the backbone to make chicken stock, roast it in the oven along with the chicken for a yummy piece to gnaw on, or throw it out…but I wouldn’t recommend that!

Now, using a small knife, cut down towards the top of the breastbone in the center, then gently fold the chicken back on itself so it lies flat.

Remember that dish of salt you set out? It’s time to use it. Rub it evenly underneath the chicken, on top of its skin, and underneath its skin, and use A LOT. The salt will tenderize the meat and make it much more flavorful, so don’t be afraid, and don’t skimp!

Let the chicken sit out for another 45 minutes while you preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil. Put a wire rack atop it and grease it well with your choice of fat (coconut oil, ghee, olive oil…etc.).

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Transfer the chicken to a wire rack and, if you’d like, sprinkle it heavily with paprika and garlic powder. (I usually use them, but skipped it this time because my dad is avoiding both garlic and nightshades because of stomach issues. This bird was pretty plain.) With a brush, spread 2 tablespoons of your melted fat of choice all over the top of the bird, making sure to get into all of the nooks and crannies.

What fat should you use? Well, it’s up to you. Usually, I use ghee, because it smells good, has a pretty color, and always results in a brown, crispy skin. Butter has a very similar effect, so I’d highly recommend that, too. If you don’t do dairy at all, I’d say coconut oil is your best option; I’ve been disappointed with using olive oil in this recipe. Whatever you use, make sure it’s melted, liquid, or warm enough to spread all over the chicken!

Bake in the oven until the breast meat registers 160 degrees and the thigh meat registers 175 degrees, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your bird. Sometimes, I get a tiny bird, and it’ll take less than 45 minutes; sometimes, I’ll get a big bird and it’ll take more than an hour. I encourage you to see what your butcher, farmer’s market vendor, or supermarket has instead of giving you a specific size to seek out. You can do it!

Let the chicken cool for at least five minutes before slicing and eating.

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Looking for side dishes? I highly recommend Simply Roasted Cauliflower or Roasted Baby Carrots–which both cook at the same temperature as the chicken–with a simple green salad or sauteed kale or spinach. It would really pair well with almost anything, though!

What’s your favorite roast chicken recipe? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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