February 10, 2014

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

When you spatchcock a chicken you are opening it by removing its backbone.  You spatchcock a chicken to allow it to lay more flat which in turn makes the chicken cook faster and more evenly.  These pictures will walk you step-by-step through spatchcocking a chicken.

Spatchcocking a chicken seemed really weird the first time I did it.  You really do have to get very personal with the chicken.  But it's become a little more natural each time I've done it.  And spatchcocking really does produce a very juicy chicken that cooks much more evenly than a whole chicken.

Disclaimer--these photos show the inside of a raw chicken.  If you don't want to see that I recommend you skip this post!

First the supplies you need:

You need a cutting board; I recommend a sturdy one that you can put in the dishwasher.
A pair of kitchen shears; these make the job of really getting into the chicken along the backbone so much easier.  Make sure they are a pretty hefty pair.  You put a lot of force on them while cutting through the chicken's ribs.
And sometimes I use a chef's knife to help get through particularly tough sections of the chicken.  I didn't need it this time!

Step 1:  Remove chicken from any wrappings.  Take out giblets and innards included with your chicken.  If you chicken is wet pat dry with a paper towel so you will be able to hold it better. Set chicken on your cutting board.

Step 2:  Starting at the rear of your chicken use your fingers to locate the spine.  Grab your kitchen sheers and start snipping along one side the spine.  Keep close to the spine as you cut.  Cut up to the ribs-they are considerably harder to cut so you will know when to stop.  Repeat on other side.

Step 3:  Cutting the ribs. Use your non-scissor hand to hold the spine out of the way.  With your scissors take a large cut along one side of the spine.  You will need some/a lot of force to cut through the ribs.  Continue cutting along the spine through the rest of the chicken.  Repeat on other side.  Remove spine from chicken.

Step 4:  Use your hands to spread chicken apart.  This exposes the cavity and flattens the chicken.  You can then season the inside of your chicken and cook as directed.  I keep the spines from the spatchcocked chicken in a freezer bag and use them to make stock when the bag is full.  You've now successfully spatchcocked a chicken!

Have you ever spatchcocked a chicken? What is your favorite way to use a spatchcocked chicken?

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