Spatchcock Chicken

Does this pan make me look fat?

Being of a curious nature, I felt compelled to seek the origin of this word, “spatchcock”, and why something so outrageously delicious would have such a, well, peculiar name.  Hoping for something culturally divergent, charming and fascinating, I was sorely disappointed to find that it means a fowl that has been split open and dressed for grilling.  Oh.

So, people, I give you spatchcock chicken!  I’ve roasted many a chicken in my day (don’t tell those 6 hens out in the coop), but I can honestly say without reservation or hesitation that I will always and from now on be roasting my chicken thusly.  Oh, my ever lovin’ goodness does this chicken come out moist, succulent, and fall-off-the-bone good.  And because the dark meat comes in direct contact with the pan, it cooks in exactly the same amount of time as the breast meat. 

If you’ve never de-boned a chicken, there’s nothing to fear here.  Except maybe how possibly disgusting these photos might appear.  But if you’re going to roast a chicken, you might as well get in there and get messy.  If you’re at all squeamish, avert your eyes and scroll down to the bottom of this post.

So all you have to do is grab a sharp pair of kitchen shears and a nice, fresh, organic chicken, and with the breast-side down, start cutting along the side of the backbone.  Don’t worry if you don’t make a perfect cut here – no one’s going to see this. 

Then, cut along the other side of the backbone (make sure you go all the way to the neck), and then remove the backbone. 

Turn the chicken over and press down to flatten the chicken a little.  Don’t be concerned about the crunching sound.  Oh dear, this is getting quite horrid, isn’t it?!

Then place your chicken in an appropriate-sized skillet (a cast-iron pan is the perfect vehicle here).  Sprinkle with a little salt, pepper and paprika.  I don’t add a lot of lemon or herbs or such to my chicken.  I really just like it to taste like chicken.  That’s all.

 Then pop the whole shebang into a 425 degree oven and roast for about an hour (or a little longer, depending on the size of your chicken).  My 4 lb chicken took just a few minutes over an hour.

Then let your chicken rest for about 15 minutes and carve her up.  The legs and thighs will just practically fall off, and the breast is easy to remove by cutting down from the center on each side.

 There.  Now grab a napkin and prepare to be delighted, even possibly enraptured by this super moist, flavorful, yet simple chicken.  The end.

Spatchcock Chicken

For a printable recipe, click here

Serves 3-4

1 whole chicken, about 3-4 lbs

kosher salt

fresh cracked black pepper


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Cut the backbone out of the chicken, so the chicken will lie flat.   Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.

Place the chicken in a heavy skillet (cast iron is best) and roast for 1 to 1 ¼ hours, or until skin is crisp and golden brown and juices run clear.