Admit it, the first time you read or heard that term, either here or elsewhere, you giggled a little bit.
Despite its funny name, this chicken preparation is hands down the easiest way to cook a whole bird outside of maybe the equipment-laden rotisserie approach. If you are craving roasted chicken on a weeknight, but refuse to buy the salt brined pre-made version available at your local grocery stores hot table, this is the fastest and in my opinion, BEST way to do it.
This particular method is for folks who don’t give a damn about whether or not the whole, barely-adulterated bird makes an appearance at the table, but want the fastest, quickest, easiest route to juicy meat, and ultra-crisp skin. Basically, it’s a method for lazy folks with great taste. Sound like you? Then come along with me.
Spatchcocking a chicken is incredibly simple. Simply cut out the back to butterfly open, set on a lined rimmed baking sheet and roast away. The flat shape leads to faster, more even cooking, and with all the skin on top you are left with crispier skin, and juicier meat as all the parts are exposed to the heat equally.
This recipe is paired with a few of my fall winter and spring favorites. I try to occasionally tie in flavors between dishes served together. In this set, I found that fresh, decadent goat cheese (chèvre) and thyme were a great pairing to weave through the various dishes and helped create a real earthy, comforting flair to each dish. This is optional, but they are two of my favorite things, and as presented they are merely background notes to each dish.
- 1 3-4lb whole chicken
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tsp gray sea salt
- 1-2 Tbsp pico limon seasoning
Honey and OJ Kale Salad Ingredients:
- 1 bunch lacinato kale(aka Dinosaur kale)
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese/chèvre or feta
- 1 handful/ 1/3 cup chopped pecans
Chèvre Mashed Potatoes Ingredients:
- 4-5 lbs of russet potatoes
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 cup milk
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 cup fresh goat cheese/chèvre
Chicken Gravy Ingredients:
- 1.5 cups chicken stock ( homemade directions below)
- 2 Tbsp chopped cooked chicken liver
- 1/4 cup reserved cooked chicken drippings/fat
- 1/2 cup AP flour
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Homemade Chicken Stock:
- Leftover chicken skin, bones, organs (i.e. gizzards, heart, liver)
- 1/2 cups rough chopped celery
- 1/2 cup of rough chopped onions
- 1/2 cup of chopped carrots
- 1 bay leaf
- Few sprigs of thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 Degrees.
- Before you begin cutting the chicken into its spatchcocked form, you will need to run under some cold water, then pat dry. Trim the neck line and lower thighs of any excessive fat then place the bird breast side down on a cutting board. Using poultry shears (A butchers knife or chef’s knife would also work), cut through the back bones and ribs along both sides of the spine and remove. Save the spine, neck, gizzards, liver and heart for the gravy stock.
- Flip the bird over with the breast facing up now. Flatten the bird out using your hands to pull wide at the rear rib cage. Using a little bit of downward force at this point, you should be able to flatten fully by breaking the chest plate. Season the inside with smoked paprika, pico limon, kosher salt and fresh black pepper, then flip over and repeat the process on the skin side.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly brush both the foil and chicken with olive oil.
- Roast chicken in oven for 45 to 55 minutes (or until the breast meats internal temperature hits 150 degrees), the chicken skin should be golden brown and the meat tender and cooked through . Check the doneness by pinching leg away from bone; if it comes away easily, you’re good. If not, put back in oven for another 10 minutes or so. I pull at 150 degrees as carryover heat with continue cooking the chicken outside of the oven for the final 10 degrees (having a thermometer probe is incredibly handy, but an instant read will do just fine). For those of you who yearn for a golden brown skin, coating the skin in butter will help with browning and crisping. As juiciness of the meat was my top priority, I skipped this step.
- It is incredibly important to let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes after it is removed from the oven. RESIST THE URGE TO SAMPLE. Finish with fresh thyme and gray sea salt.
Honey and OJ Kale Salad Directions:
- Wash kale thoroughly under cold water, to wash away any residual dirt or sediment.
- Remove stems and any other rigid or unsightly parts of you kale leaves.
- Chop remaining cleaned kale into bite sized leaves. Wash one last time, then pat dry using paper towels or a salad spinner. Set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk together the orange juice, honey and olive oil. Set aside.
- In a small frying pan over low heat, gently toast the pecans, stirring often to avoid burning. Set aside.
- Finally, toss the kale in the OJ dressing making sure to coat fully. Toss in toasted pecans and flecked goat cheese or feta.
Chevre Mashed Potatoes Directions:
- In a large pot add 4-6 cups of water, depending on how many potatoes you use. Salt the water generously and turn on medium high.
- Using a vegetable peeler, clean and remove all of the skins from your spuds. I always like to chop the potatoes in half or in fourths or even eighths before throwing them into the pot. They cook more quickly and more evenly this way.
- Bring the pot of salted water to a healthy simmer and throw the potatoes in. Bring the water to a boil and continue to cook for 30 minutes or more until the potatoes are soft. You have to give the potatoes n old fashioned fork check to make sure that they’re done. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost—but not totally—fall apart. Remember, if the fork meets with any resistance, that means there’ll be little hard pieces of potatoes in the final product. Translation: LUMPS! (nothing wrong with lumps I might add)
- Strain your softened potatoes then return them to the pot over low heat. What we’re going to do is mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients. That way, the potatoes won’t be watery or “mealy.”
- Mash away with a potato masher.
- Now that you got a solid forearm workout in, its time to add your softened butter, milk and goat cheese and thyme. Continue to mash until it reaches a smooth, creamy consistency. (My gal and I actually prefer it a little chunkier in consistency sometimes so we stopped early in this batch, but it is all a matter of preference.)
Chicken Stock Directions:
- Using the spare chicken pieces (of which mine provided a skin on spine, neck, liver, heart and gizzards) we are going to make a quick chicken broth, but you could absolutely use store bought chicken stock in its place. In a medium sauce pan pour in 2 cups of water, your chicken parts, bay leaf, thyme and season with salt and pepper. For more depth of flavor, its important to add a traditional mirepoix (celery, onion and carrot). In this case, I nixed the carrots as I didn’t have any on hand, and added mushrooms to add a bit of umami to the stock. Totally optional move there!
- Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer. Simmer uncovered at least 4 hours, occasionally skimming off the foam that comes to the surface.
- Remove the giblets, neck and spine and strain the stock.
Chicken Gravy Directions:
- I made a quick chicken stock, but you could absolutely use a store bought one to replace it here. I recommend Kitchen Basic (No Salt Added). It is incredibly flavorful, and far less salty then its competitors, and has become my go-to stock at home when not using homemade.
- To make gravy, the first step is to save the drippings and scraps from the pan that you used to cook the meat. This will give great flavor to your gravy. (If the chicken was fairly lean and didn’t give up enough juice, 2 Tbsp of butter will suffice. We will be added some chopped chicken gizzard and liver later to add additional chicken flavor to the gravy later on.)
- Time to skim off the fat. First, pour all of the drippings from the pan into a large bowl or measuring cup. Let it sit for a minute or two, until the fat has separated on the top. Then, use a spoon to skim the fat from the top and transfer it to a measuring cup. Make sure that you keep track of how much fat you have, because you will need to add an equal amount of flour. (Keep the rest of the drippings in the measuring cup, because you will need these later.)
- In a non-stick frying pan, heat the bulk of your drippings over medium heat. Once the drippings are heated and viscous, add in your flour to the drippings, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it forms into a brown paste known as a roux. This should take just a few minutes.
- OPTIONAL: Remove the giblets from the stock pan you made earlier and finely chop them to add to the gravy later. This is something my mother always did growing up and it really adds to the overall flavor of the gravy. If this is off-putting to you (as offal tends to be for some) simply skip it.
- Next we add the broth and continue stirring. (This is where you add the rest of the drippings and chopped giblets from the cooking of the meat).
- Pour the drippings into the pan and whisk them together with the fat/flour mixture. Stir until the whole mixture has the smooth, viscous consistency associated with gravy. Salt and pepper to taste from here.