Saturday, March 1, 2014

Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken

I love chicken. It is such a great basis for so many dishes. It can be the star all by itself, or as a key ingredient in a casserole, stir fry or even making an appearance as broth. If you want to cook a whole chicken and you really do not have the time required to roast it whole, spatchcocking it is a great solution. The first references to "spatchcocking" appear in 18th-century Irish cookbooks. It is a way to flatten a whole chicken so it can be grilled or roasted over direct heat quickly. It results in an exceptionally moist and juicy chicken and it is really easy to do:

      1 4-6 lb Whole Chicken
      3-4 Tbs Uncle Matt's Poultry and Fish Rub or Other quality Poultry Rub

      Sturdy poultry shears
      Sharp boning knife
      Cutting board and anti-slip mat or wet dish towel
      Instant read thermometer (Thermapen)


  1. Place the cutting board on the anti slip mat or wet dish cloth. This will keep it from slipping around while you cut the chicken.
  2. Rinse and pat dry the chicken; place on the secured cutting board breast side down with the tail toward you and the neck away from you.
  3. Using poultry shears or sharp boning knife cut from the right side of the tail all the way to the neck opening keeping just to the right of the back bone.
  4. Use the shears again to cut along the left side of the tail to the neck opening and just to the left of the back bone. When you are done, you will have removed the backbone of the chicken. Discard it or save it to use for making stock.
  5. Flatten the chicken out with the skin side down. Clean up the inside of the chicken with paper towels.
  6. Using the boning knife, cut a slit behind the keel bone (which is in the center of the chicken breast) so that you can remove it.
  7. Take the chicken and press on the keel bone out from the skin side of the chicken and pop it out of the bone side. This takes a little doing but it should pop out with some pressure and working your fingers around the bone using the slit you cut previously. Use the knife sparingly if you need to so you do not tear up the breast meat. I usually also remove the keel cartilage as well. If you have a small chicken you can leave these bones in.
  8. Fold the wings under themselves so that they are not flapping around.
  9. Optional Step: Take the boning knife and make a small slit in the skin between the leg and the tail area. Push the end of the leg through the slit to hold it in place. 
  10. Pat the chicken dry again and liberally apply rub to the bone side of the chicken. Place chicken in a container with skin side up and apply some rub to the top as well. If you can, leave it in the refrigerator for a few hours. The dryer the skin is when you cook it, the crispier it will be when it is done.
  11. Fix up your covered grill so that is running about 375. Place the chicken, bone side down, on the grill. Cover and grill for about 1 hour. 
  12. When nearly done, check the temperature of the breast and thighs with a good instant read thermometer, like a Thermapen. The breast should be 165 and the thighs 175.
  13. Remove from grill, let sit, loosely covered, on a clean cutting board for at least 5 minutes and then serve.

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