Cooking a whole chicken can be intimidating for a lot of people, which is why most people avoid it. Spatchcock chicken is essentially cooking a whole chicken after it’s been flattened, sounds cool right? All you need is a sturdy pair of scissors or kitchen sheers and the balls to cut the back out of a chicken, trust me, it’s easy.
1 Whole Chicken, back removed and flattenned
1 Tbsp Butter, softened
2 Tsp Herbs de Provence
1 Tsp Kosher salt
1 Clove Garlic, minced
2 Carrots, peeled cut into large pieces
2 Celery Stalks, cut into large pieces
1/2 Onion, cut into large pieces
4 cups Chicken Stock
1 1/2 Tbsp Cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup of cold water
2 Tsp. Summer Savory, dry
2 Tsp Basil, dry
1 Tsp. Thyme, dry
1/2 Tsp Black pepper, freshly ground
Kosher salt to taste
Preheat your oven to 400F. To lay the chicken flat you need to cut the back out of the chicken, please watch this video for a tutorial. Basically you will turn the chicken over so the breast side is down, using good sturdy, clean scissors or kitchen sheers if you have them, just cut along either side of the spine. You can feel the spine with your fingers but in general it’s approx. 1″ wide and in the very center of the back part of the chicken. The purpose of this is to create more surface area which means you will cook the chicken more quickly and you’ll season and roast the chicken on both sides allowing the under side to get that beautiful roasted taste as opposed to just the outer skin areas.
Once you have the chickens flattened out, dry off the surface with a clean paper towel, the rub will not stick to the wet skin of the chicken.
Whenever I roast chickens, I like to create a paste that I can rub onto the chicken to create flavour. In this case I want really good drippings gravy to go with the mashed potatoes I’m making on the side so I have used a combination of butter, herbs and garlic but any number of flavour combinations will work and I will add more rub recipes in other posts.
Once you’ve made the paste, rub it over the entire chicken including the under side. Have a pan ready with the vegetables which have been tossed with the oil and a bit of salt and pepper. The vegetables will roast in the dry heat of the oven and get caramelized which will give a deep intense flavour and colour to your gravy, never trust pale chicken gravy.
Place the chicken on top of the veggies and get it into the oven, depending on the size of your chicken, it will take approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour. More importantly, use an internal temperature thermometer, (essential tool) to get to an internal temperature of 165F. I cannot stress enough what a life saver this tool is in the kitchen for steaks and chicken. It is such a stress reliever to know you are serving the meat at full doneness but not dry without having to cut into it and ruin the look.
Halfway through the cooking process you will notice that the veggies are roasting and browning, you want to add your chicken stock to the pan at this point, it will loosen and roasted bits from the pan and soak up all the flavours from the veggies and the chicken drippings, it will also keep the under side of the chicken nice and moist while cooking.
Once you hit the 165F, remove the chickens from the oven and let them rest on a platter of cutting board, do not cut into them at this point or you will lose precious juices.
To make the gravy, pour the drippings from the pan through a sieve into a pot. Add the savory, basil, thyme and black pepper but not the salt yet. Place the pot on the stove and heat on med/high, while stirring with a small whisk, add the cornstarch that’s been dissolved in cold water. Stir continuously until it comes to a simmer and begins to bubble. Once it’s bubbling, you can judge the consistency of the gravy, if it’s too thick you can add a bit of stock while stirring, if it’s too thin you can make a bit more cornstarch mixture and add a little at a time while stirring until the desired consistency is reached. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.
To cut the chicken simply place the flattened chicken on a clean cutting board and cut down the center breast bone to cut it in half. This can be a large dinner for two or you can continue and cut the chicken into fourths by cutting off the legs/thighs. I usually stop there but you can separate the thighs from the legs for smaller portions.
I will make this dish with multiple chickens for family functions because it comes together so much easier than a roast turkey, guests love the flavour and they like to take the part of the chicken that they prefer. We all have someone in our families who only like the breast meat and others who prefer the legs, this way, everyone is happy and you don’t have a big turkey carcass sitting on your table or in your kitchen.
If you find a great deal on whole chicken and you want to buy them in bulk, simply apply this method to all of the chickens and pre rub the marinade on all of them. Then just wrap and bag each chicken in a freezer bag before freezing. The chickens can be stacked in the freezer taking up less room and they will marinate as they defrost when you’re ready to use it.
I hope you give this a try, you’ll find it’s so much easier than you thought. Enjoy!