8 June 2012

I can spatchcock! A chicken, that is ..

Disconcertingly, it looks a tiny bit crab-like
Isn't it silly, the cookery things you look at and think "oh, now that looks a nice thing to do to a <insert ingredient of your choice>", but rule it out as being something way beyond your skill set to be able to do?

Such was spatchcocking a chicken, with me.  Until now, that is.

Mind you, I do think it is more a consecutive set of events that led up to the spatchcocking, rather than my suddenly getting brave.  You see, for Mother's Day this year dear son & heir bought me (which may seem a tad odd for the majority of the populace, but not for me) a knife block and set of kitchen knives, which included a pair of poultry shears. 

Large, mean, shearing machine!

Up until when I did the chicken, the most the shears have ever been set to do was opening a bag of spice.  However, I put them to the job they were best meant for when I decided to cut the spine out of my chicken and spatchcock it.

Ta-daaa!  One spatchcock chicken :)

Now I defy anyone with a conscience not to feel a bit weird when cutting through a chicken's rib bones, okay?  'Nuff said, methinks.

However, the whole process of turning a "ready to roast" into a "spatchcock" chicken is remarkably easy!  Just turn the little fellow upside down, with the Parson's nose to you and cut alongside the spine.  Do the same the other side, then turn it over, press down on the breastbone and in the time it takes for the ribs to give you a round of applause (okay, I know, I said I wasn't going to say any more.  I apologise), you've got a spatchcock chicken.  Just criss cross it with skewers to keep it flat in the oven, and you're there.

Following a quick bath in Mic's Chilli El Loco BBQ sauce

Because I was giving the Mic's Chilli El Loco BBQ Sauce a good run for its money, I wanted the flavours from the BBQ sauce to really penetrate the chicken meat.  In order to help this along a bit, I slashed (sounds so barbaric!) the legs and breast fairly deeply, which allowed the BBQ sauce to penetrate and give fabulous flavour.

Om, nom, nom!
I then put the chicken in the fridge for 4 hours or so, to marinate, before cooking that evening.

So, later on that evening, I put the chicken into a pre-heated oven at 180degC/350degF /Gas4 and roasted it for 45 minutes.  The smell was amazing - but then anything using the El Loco BBQ sauce is going to smell amazing.  I swear, you could roast my old trainers in the stuff and they'd (almost) smell edible!

I served the chicken with some of the Ottolenghi Green Couscous, which is just the most delicious couscous ever - and paired with the piquancy and tongue-tastic flavours of the moist, succulent BBQ chicken, it really was a match made in heaven.

More om nom nom!
Owing to being flattened into one same-height layer, the chicken doesn't take as long as a normal roasting chicken would to cook in the oven, the meat stayed a lot more juicy.  Well, so it seemed to me.  Of course, maybe we were just fortunate with the chicken - but considering it was one of Asda's "cheap as chips" chickens (the only one we had time to lay our hands on), it says a lot for the method of cooking that it turned out as well as it did.

I'm seriously considering never making a conventional roast chicken again, if these results are consistent!

Leg or breast?  Who cares - hand it over!


Ingredients :

A chicken
a pair of poultry shears or a very sharp, heavy knife and a strong arm
Mic's Chilli El Loco BBQ sauce - around a half a bottle (or another barbecue sauce of choice).

Method :

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180degC/350degF/Gas4 and prepare a roasting tin that will take the chicken with room to spare around it.  I always line the tin with non-stick silver foil, as it makes washing up so much easier!

2.  Take the chicken and turn it upside down (breast side down, that is) and with the Parson's nose pointing towards you.

3.  Insert the shears slightly to one side of the Parson's nose and begin to cut alongside the spine of the chicken, until you reach the neck opening.

4.  Then repeat for the other side of the spine - and remove it once freed.

(If you are using a knife, you'll need the chicken with its breast side uppermost and then cut alongside the spine, so that you can bear down through the bone onto a chopping board).

5.  Turn the chicken breast side up and press sharply down on the breastbone to flatten it.

6.  Once flat, take a metal skewer and run the skewer from the neck end of the breast, through the thigh and drumstick and out the other side.

7.  Take a second skewer and do the same with the opposite diagonal.

8.  With a very sharp knife, slash the breast meat and legs in several places.

9.  Rub in the BBQ sauce - taking care not to touch the chicken with the mouth of the bottle - and I recommend using one hand to rub the sauce into the chicken and the other hand to handle the sauce bottle.  You don't want to transfer raw chicken germs to the BBQ sauce bottle that you'll be putting into the fridge!

10.  You can either leave the chicken to marinate until you are ready to cook it, or just put it straight into the oven to cook for 45-50 minutes, depending on how big a chicken it is.  As ever, test the chicken is cooked by separating some of the meat with a sharp knife - if the juices run clear it's done, if there is any evidence of pink meat or pink juices (which is hard to tell with the BBQ sauce, but it's a different kind of pink to the BBQ sauce), put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes or so until the juices run clear.

Printable version



  1. No. Actually it looks bloody marvellous. I live finding a recipe or method that changes the game entirely. Great stuff!

    1. I can remember feeling like this after I'd pot roasted my first chicken, too. LOL They call it "humble", but seriously, is there any other meat that is so versatile? I don't think so! :)

  2. Thanks for this. I haven't been game to try this. Have a great week.

    1. Get yourself a pair of poultry shears and get to it, then Carole! It is so easy, I can't believe I was at all leery of it. :)

  3. Welcome to the flat chicken club, works so well on the BBQ. Also, I keep the back of the chicken,and that goes into my freezer stock pot, along with all my veg trim. Live my shears, I use them all the time, both my kids have them too. Very handy kitchen tool.

    1. When the weather was lovely and sunny, we bought a barbecue - just in time for the rain to start. It's been raining ever since. :( We did consider cooking this chicken on the barbecue, but unfortunately the weather took care of that for us. I'll definitely give it a go as soon as the weather lets me! If only I had a bigger freezer, I'd be able to keep bits and pieces for a stockpot too. One day!

  4. I'm throwing my money at the screen, why isn't yummy barbecue chicken coming out?

    1. LOL Probably because we ate it all! :)

  5. it looks so good! i always roast chickens all splayed out this way thanks to Nigella. but haven't ever added the BBQ sauce. Why, oh why, not, I ask you?
    thanks for the nudge.

    1. I'd recommend marinating the chicken in the sauce for a while, Aidan - it makes such a difference to the overall flavour to have it permeate the meat and not just be on the skin. :)

  6. Brilliant! I've never tried doing that and I was a chef for over 30 years!

    1. Once you've done it the once, Suzy, you'll be SO kicking yourself as to why you haven't done it before that! It honestly makes me wonder what the message was about creating a spatchcock chicken. After all, so many of us are leery of doing it, yet it is SO simple!

  7. Jenny,
    I will. I'm going to make the kind of chinese one with hoisin i usually use for spare ribs. i;ll let you know how it goes.

    1. Should be completely delicious, Aidan! Can't wait - save me some, won't you? lol

  8. Hi, you will have seen that the new Food on Friday ingredient is chicken. I noticed that you did this post on chicken which I think would be great linked in. We already have a collection of over 40 recipes which is wonderful. At the moment the Food on Friday edition with the most links is Beef with 73 – I get the feeling though that Chicken could become the new record holder!
    Have a great day and thank you for following Carole's Chatter. It 's nice to have you along for my blogging journey.

    1. thanks, Jenny, for linking this to Food on Friday: Chicken. You will have seen that you were No 94! Amazing.
      Have a great day.

    2. It's always a pleasure to post a recipe on your pages, Carole. :) So, 94 chicken recipes - that's a quarter of a year's dinners sorted. LOL


I love to receive messages from you all, so if you can spare the time, comment away!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...