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« Il Diplomatico | Main | Pasta Roll With Spinach and Tomato Sauce »

Spatchcock Chicken

I've cooked plenty of whole chickens and I think it's a great way to easily fix a whole bird. It's very simple and you can place herbs and lemons inside the chicken for extra flavor. But my favorite way to fix a whole chicken is to spatchcock it - to butterfly it. There's a couple of reason why I prefer this method. First, I love dark meat and when you butterfly a chicken, the thighs get nice and crispy. When you cook a whole bird, unless you flip the chicken, the thighs will be on the bottom of the pan and they end up never really getting brown. Also, if you are pressed for time, a butterflied chicken will cook much faster than a whole chicken. To butterfly the chicken, you simply remove the backbone, flip the chicken over, and press down on the breastbone until the chicken cracks and lays flat.

Use heavy duty kitchen scissors or these poultry shears, which I have.  They cut right through bone very easily and make removing the backbone a snap.  Just cut through on either side of the backbone and make sure your fingers are out of the way.  I save the backbones and freeze them to use later in broths.

Flip the birds breast side up and press on the breastbone, until you hear a crack and the bird lays flat.

I squeeze lemon and orange juice all over the chickens, drizzle them in olive oil, salt and pepper and chopped parsley.  Marinate for a couple of hours on a sheet pan in the fridge.

Place a rack under the chickens and roast at 375 degrees for 50 minutes.  Roast the lemons along with the chickens.  They get very soft and are easy then to squeeze the juice out during roasting.

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Reader Comments (18)

This is really helpful. I'll admit, I usually buy mine already cut and cleaned.

March 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusan from Food Blogga

I do exactly the same thing! And I also use the backbone for stock. I feel very cannibalistic while cutting the chicken. :) Thank you as always for your wonderful tutorial, I have not marinaded the chicken like that, so I will be trying that next time! I usually cut little slits in the skin and stuff cut garlic cloves in there - yum. I love garlicky, lemony chicken.

March 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterIrene

Un altro ragione che non posso aspettare per ritornare a casa mama! 3 mesi senza tuo cibo e molto difficile. Tu vederò mercoledì!


March 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBMac

Grazie! Mi manchi!

March 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Italian Dish

You know how I love your step by steps! Never did this, but now I'm going to try! Are you working on the video's???

March 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterProud Italian Cook

Fantastic chicken recipe!

March 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMadison Cowan

I love this recipe! I am going to fix it for Sunday dinner. I have butterflied my chickens like that before but have always BBQ'd them, roasting them in the oven with lemon and orange sounds delicious. Thanks you for this wonderful site!

March 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterS.A. Barone, Artist

Ah, I have a coupon for chicken and they're going to get spatchcocked!! Looks so good :)

March 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Have always been afraid to cut through the backbone (how squeamishly-silly is that?) but with your tutorial - think I could give it a try. Has all my favorite flavors combined.

March 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

i like the tutorials too. i get to stare at that rock on your finger!!!

oh, and spatchcocked chicken. great to eat, fun to say!

March 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercook eat FRET

do you make gravy from the drippings? seems you could hit that with butter or wine or both...

March 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercook eat FRET

FRET: You are so right: I absolutely have done a pan gravy from the drippings. These were actually Rock Cornish hens, so they were much smaller. Regular chickens provide enough drippings that you can make a sauce. Now I'm getting hungry talking about it.

March 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Italian Dish

I would like to be the 3rd person to say how much I like your step my step photos - they are lovely too.
This post is perfectly timed for those spring chickens we will soon be enjoying.
I had never had poultry shears until my mum bought me a pair last year - they have become one of my favourite kitchen tools.

March 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterracheleats

I mentioned to my husband just last week that this is the way I next want to make chicken. And his favorite marinade is *exactly* what you used, how funny. The first time I used both the orange and lemon he thought it would be too citrusy, but it's so perfect every time. Thanks for the tutorial.

March 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermelissa

Can't wait to go buy a chicken!

March 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZoomie

Thanks a lot. This is an interesting recipe. At last I have found something interesting and unique to serve to my guests during the holidays. I am sure that they'll love this Spatchcock Chicken.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMax mickle

Made this last night with the exception of zesting some of the lemon and orange peel and mixing that with a little pepper and olive oil and then tucking it under the chicken's skin while it marinated. Just before roasting I sprinkled kosher salt over chicken in an attempt ensure very crispy skin. Came out great - very flavorful, moist meat, crispy skin and healthy. Great way to roast a chicken!

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCB

I made this using Cornish game hens, it came out great!

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDoreen

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