Our daughter, Lydia, is six years old, though developmentally she is more like a two year old. She is our miracle girl. She has a unique chromosomal abnormality that has presented many challenges in her development and the doctors did not have much hope for her when she was born. She has completely blown away their expectations and is loads of sunshine in our life. She loves the farm and is a "helper" in the kitchen. "Helper" in this case translates to "has her hands in everything".
So one evening when I was working on preparing chicken for dinner, she was right there with me, watching every move. I knew I wanted to blog about how to spatchcock a chicken and was taking pictures as I worked with the bird. She was sitting on the kitchen table watching me work. I took pictures at each step and she watched intently. When I got done, I looked down at the chicken and found myself absentmindedly moving my arms to make myself look like a spatchcocked bird. I heard a giggle and looked up to see Lydia doing the same movement with her arms. I laughed and said, "Spatchcock!" and she moved her arms again and laughed. And now, my little girl who has very limited speech has a new dance - the spatchcock! She does it on demand and finds it to be incredibly humorous!
And while you're thinking how marvelously cute my daughter is, you're probably trying to figure out what in world I'm even talking about. So, let's get to the "meat" of the post!
Spatchcock is essentially a way to flatten out a whole chicken to make it more manageable to cook. It's super easy to do, though it sounds pretty fancy. And it's always fun to do something fancy in the kitchen.
First step is to get a whole chicken. We're of course partial to our chickens raised on our farm, which you can order from the link. Rinse it out with cold water and put it on a cookie sheet while you work. Lay it so that the back of the chicken is facing upwards. I used kitchen shears for the next part, but if you don't have them you can use a good sharp knife - but be careful!
|Find the spine and cut right next to it with your shears.|
|This is what it looks like when you're halfway done. |
Now just cut the other side.
Flip it over on the cookie sheet so that it is breast side up. Then gently push on the center of the breast until the chicken "cracks" or "pops" and it lies flat. That's it - spatchcock!
From here, you can be creative and prepare the chicken in your favorite way. We brined one in 1 gallon cold water mixed with 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup sugar. You can get way fancier than that, but it was fast and easy. I put it in a large Rubbermaid dish and added the spatchcocked bird, letting it marinate for 2-3 hours. I just rubbed the other bird with my favorite BBQ rub before we grilled it.
When you're ready to cook it, tuck the little wing tips behind the thighs to keep them from burning or cooking too quickly. We grilled ours using indirect heat until it reached 165 degrees. I'm also going to try roasting one in the oven on a bed of seasoned potatoes. More information on that later!
So if you have a crowd of eaters and want to be all fancy, try spatchcocking a chicken then getting creative! Don't fear a whole chicken. It's a much quicker and easier way to roast or grill a chicken and it's just really fun to say. And to use at a dance party. Just ask Lydia!