10 March 2014

spatchcocked roast chicken

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday.

Yeah, I've written about chicken roasting before, and that old technique still turns out a lovely bird. But listen, if you found an easier/faster/all-around-tastier way, wouldn't you switch? I did. With this method you don't need to flip the chicken, and because of the removal of the backbone, the finished bird is easier to carve into pieces for serving. Huzzah.

If you own a hefty pair of kitchen shears-- and if you don't, for the love, make haste to put these Wusthof beauties in your Amazon cart-- a beautiful spatchcocked chicken can be on your table tonight.


Spatchcocked Roast Chicken

4-5 lb whole chicken
1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
plenty of sea salt and black pepper

1) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a large sturdy baking sheet and set aside.
2) Get your chicken out of the fridge, remove any wrapping, and drain any juices. If the chicken's cavity contains the neck and giblets, set them aside to make stock later. Pat chicken dry with paper towels.
3) On a large cutting board, place the chicken backbone up. Using your shears, cut down either side of the backbone; with a good pair of shears you should be able to cut right through the ribs without much trouble. Remove the backbone (see picture A) and set aside with the giblets.
4) Flip your chicken over so that it's breast side up. Wiggle the legs around so that the chicken is lying quite flat and place it on the prepared baking sheet (see picture B).
5) Using your fingers, loosen the skin a bit so that the olive oil and seasonings will get to the meat. Pour olive oil evenly over chicken and season liberally with salt and pepper. At this point you can add any additional seasonings you desire; in these photos I kept it plain because I wanted to use the meat for other dishes.
6) Place the entire chicken in the preheated oven and roast for 30 minutes, at which point it will be nicely browned on top. Cover with foil and roast for 30 more minutes.
7) Now the most important step: turn off the oven but leave the chicken in there, still covered with foil. Let rest for 30 minutes before removing from the oven and serving (see picture C).

I discovered by accident that this extended resting period really takes chicken to the next level by making it incredibly tender-- one night Jared came back late from work and I just left dinner in the oven until he arrived, but lo and behold, it was actually much better than it would have been otherwise! Now I would never skip the long resting step.

This is the basic way, and it's marvelously tasty. You can dress it up as much as you want by rubbing other goodies beneath the skin of the chicken prior to roasting. Try fresh or dried herbs such as dill, parsley, or tarragon; a light pinch of red pepper flakes; several splashes of white wine; more adventurous spices like cumin and cinnamon; a squirt of Dijon; several spoonfuls of pesto . . . so on and so forth, world without end. I have found several great seasoning recipes for roast chicken in Debra Worth's e-book Much Ado About Chicken.


  1. Thank you for this!!!!!

  2. This would be a very good thing for me, considering that I always manage to cook my chicken upside down. And don't know how to carve it. I admit: I'm very lazy when it comes to whole chickens, even if I love the flavor.
    Also, I should probably wait til I can stomach raw chicken again...one of those aversions, you know. :)