A spatchcocked chicken is one that has been split open for grilling or oven roasting.
March 16, 2016 10:30:31 AM
Last week I spatchcocked a chicken! No need to blush; spatchcock is a culinary term referring to removing the backbone of poultry to flatten the bird for cooking. It is a truly funny word, and I have been wondering for some time what the origin of it is. So, I did a little reading up and find that it has been around for quite some time. There are mixed notions of its first use, but many agree that it comes from the 18th century and is either Irish or English. A similar word, "spitchcock," was used to refer to eel that was chopped into sections and fried. I also saw a reference that the word was used for a culled immature male chicken.
However our Irish or English ancestors used the term, today it is a giggly word for a most wonderful method of preparing fowl. And it is so very easy! I will refer you to YouTube if you want a visual demonstration. To summarize the method:
And voila -- you have a spatchcock chicken! You can proceed to oven-roast or grill your chicken. I didn't really plan ahead when I did mine, but I did have a lemon on hand. I sprinkled the chicken with Jane's Crazy Salt and some pepper and then thickly sliced the lemon. I inserted thick garlic slivers in the middle of the lemon and lay the chicken over the lemons, skin side up, on a rack on a pan. I roasted it at 350 F for about 30 minutes and then turned it up to 400 F for 15 minutes to brown the skin. It was yummy.
One more note on the use of the word "spatchcock." You will find it used interchangeably with "butterfly," however, the noted cookbook author and teacher Anne Willan strongly disagrees with this. She notes that, "To butterfly is to cut a single slit more or less through the middle of a usually boneless piece of meat, poultry, fish, even a vegetable, so it can be opened up in the manner of butterfly wings. It may be cooked flat or stuffed and reshaped. To spatchcock is much more specific, applied only to poultry as far as I know, and almost always to small birds -- quail, pigeon, small chickens." So, there.
Below are some recipes for you to try. I wanted to make the buttermilk marinated chicken last week, but realized too late that I didn't have enough buttermilk. I do plan to make it this week.
BUTTERMILK SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN
1 4-pound chicken
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
1 tablespoon Maldon or other sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon honey
GRILLED CHICKEN UNDER A BRICK
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 (3-pound) chickens, butterflied
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges, for garnish
4 clean bricks