Grill A Whole Chicken In Record Time With The Spatchcock Technique

If you've spent an extended amount of time watching cooking shows or browsing online recipes, you'll undoubtedly come across the term "spatchcock." Always in reference to poultry, it's a word that you may assume was mispronounced, or it makes you nod smugly because you know exactly what this term entails, an almost insider's term for preparing poultry.

But for those of you who don't know, what is spatchcock? Food Republic explains it best, noting that it is basically a noun describing poultry that has been butterflied so it can be flattened and grilled. It can also be a verb, as in the action of preparing chicken in this style.

Fun terminology aside, what are the advantages of spatchcocking chicken for cooking? Spatchcocking is the way to go if you're intent on keeping the chicken whole during cooking but know that this can result in an unevenly cooked bird. A significant benefit is that it can reduce cooking time by exposing more of the chicken roughly 25% faster. Spatchcocking is much simpler than it sounds; all you need is a sturdy pair of kitchen shears.

What is spatchcocking?

First, pat the entire bird dry, then lay it on a clean cutting board used for raw meat. Ensure the breast side is facing down on the board and the drumsticks are pointing up at you. Feel along the center of the bird for its backbone. Then, with a clean and sturdy pair of kitchen shears, cut along one side of the backbone from the bishop's nose to neck. Don't be alarmed that the shears are crunching through the ribcage—this is precisely what you want to happen! When one side is completely free of the backbone, repeat the same step on the other side of the backbone. Set the backbone aside; it's perfect for making stock on the cheap.

Now you have a chicken opened before you like a book. Pat the insides dry, then turn the bird upside down, with the breast side facing up toward you. Make sure to splay the legs out to the sides. Place the heel of your palm on the middle of the breast, then quickly and surely, apply downward force to crack the breastbone. Do this step a few more times along the centerline of the chicken, which will help flatten it as much as possible. BBC Good Food suggests inserting a couple of metal skewers through the legs and breast to help hold it all in place if necessary. Voila, a spatchcocked chicken!

Ideas for grilling chicken

From this point, you can apply your preferred marinades or rubs onto the prepared chicken, with the bonus of seasoning it from the inside, aka the inner part of the chicken you have now exposed by cutting out the breastbone. This technique can be used to roast or smoke chicken, though we especially like to use it for summertime grilling. The sunny weather is excellent for cooking outdoors, but sometimes it's too balmy to stand over a hot grill; we welcome speedier ways to cook summer meals.

Grilled spatchcocked chicken can explore an entire globe's worth of flavors, from an easy recipe for light Mediterranean flavors or something spicier like chicken grilled with beetroot slaw. Plenty of exciting grilled chicken recipes can be applied to spatchcocked chicken.

Remember that you can also apply the spatchcock technique to other kinds of poultry as well. Keep this in mind for your holiday turkey recipes to ensure evenly cooked birds in a fraction of the time!