Gather ’round and silence your chuckles because today’s lesson is all about spatchcocking. And it’s going to add some serious A-game cred to your run-of-the-mill grilled chicken.
Pronounced just like it’s spelled, this butchery technique enables a chicken to be flat as it’s cooked. The presentation is beautiful and the cooking time on a whole chicken is cut down by a third, if not more. To spatchcock a bird, place it breast-side down on a cutting board. Using a knife or kitchen shears, cut straight up both sides of the backbone from the cavity to the neck (the backbone can be discarded or added to stock).
Open the bird like a book, exposing the inner cavity, and cut down both sides of the pointed, opaque piece of cartilage that runs between the breasts. Flip it over so it’s breast-side up and press down firmly on the breasts until you hear a pop. Turn the bird over once more and remove the breastbone and opaque piece of cartilage that you previously trimmed around. Discard both pieces.
That’s it — you’re ready to go! Season the poultry liberally, lay it down flat and prepare it however you like. In this instance, because we’ll be grilling and, thusly, flipping the whole bird, I recommend tying the feet together with butcher twine to make the whole thing easier to handle.
It’s hard to say which will be more impressive: the spread on your dinner table or the fact that you said “spatchcocked chicken” with a straight face.
Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken
Total Time: 30 min
Prep: 5 min
Cook: 25 min
Yield: 4 servings
1 whole chicken, about 5 pounds, spatchcocked
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat a gas grill to high.
Season both sides of the chicken with paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Rub evenly with the olive oil. Gather the feet and tie them together with a small length of butcher twine.
Place the whole chicken, skin-side down, on the grill. Cook until beginning to char, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Reduce the heat to medium-high and continue grilling, skin-side up, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes more.
NOTES: If using a charcoal grill, ignite a batch of charcoals and let burn until gray and hot. Keep the charcoals clustered on one side of the grill. Start cooking the chicken over the hot coals until beginning to char, 8 to 10 minutes per side, then move the chicken so it is no longer directly over the coals. Continue grilling until cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes more.
Serve this easy, flavorful chicken with a simple side like rice with peas and torn mint.
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Marc Forgione and Bobby Deen, he now works on digital production for FoodNetwork.com, CookingChannelTV.com and Food.com in NYC by day and develops recipes at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following him on Twitter & Instagram at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.