How did I not know this? I’ve been roasting chickens for more years than I care to tell you, but it’s always been a leisurely Sunday night sort of activity. And then I discovered spatchcocking and everything changed.
If you’re craving roast chicken on a weeknight, spatchcock chicken is your answer. Also known as butterflying, spatchocking involves cutting out the backbone and flattening the bird so it cooks faster and more evenly than it does whole. It’s a great technique for the grill or oven.
You can have dinner on the table in about an hour, which is swell, but even better, the chicken will be evenly cooked throughout – no dried-out breast meat and undercooked dark – and the skin will be gloriously crisp all over. It’s a miracle!
Roasted Spatchcock Chicken
Note that you’ll need a pair of heavy-duty kitchen shears to cut the chicken, or you could always ask your butcher to do it for you. Serve with roast potatoes and a crisp green salad. Pairs well with a crisp rosé or a dry white wine – I like Grüner Veltliner or an unoaked Chardonnay.
4 or 5 cloves garlic, lightly crushed, or 1 small onion, quartered, optional
4 lb chicken
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, sage, rosemary and/or oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 lemons, halved, optional
Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Using kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone and remove it. Turn the chicken breast side up and press on the breastbone to flatten the chicken. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil, then sprinkle with chopped herbs. Generously season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the chicken to the baking sheet, skin side up, and tuck the garlic or onions underneath it. Alternatively, you can skip the aromatics and place the chicken on a wire rack on top of the baking sheet. If you’re using the lemons, place them on the baking sheet as well, cut side up.
Roast for 45 minutes, until the skin is crisp and golden, and an instant-read thermometer inserted in an inner thigh registers 160° F. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and rest for 10 minutes before serving. If you’ve used the lemons, you can squeeze the juice over the chicken for a citrusy accent.