Friday, October 21, 2011

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

Smoked spatchcock chicken
Smoking a spatchcocked chicken
To those unfamiliar with the term, "spatchcocking" a chicken might sound intimidating or downright bizarre, but it's actually a very simple preparation technique that's easy to master and worth learning if you like to grill, barbecue or smoke chicken.  All you need is a whole raw chicken, a sharp paring knife, and kitchen shears that can cut through small bones.

Spatchcocking is an ideal way to grill or smoke a whole chicken because it allows all parts to cook evenly and simultaneously at the right temperature -- no more dried-out breast meat or under-done dark meat.  If you spatchcock a chicken before seasoning or marinating it, you can fully cook the drumsticks, thighs and wings without worrying about overcooking or drying out the more delicate breast meat. The entire bird will turn out juicy and tender, all at the same time.

Spatchcocking involves cutting out the backbone of the chicken and removing the breastplate.  In contrast, when you butterfly a chicken, you cut it from the front or breast. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to spatchcock a chicken:

BBQ spatchcock chicken
Grilling spatchcocked chickens
1. Place the whole chicken breast-down on a cutting board so that you're looking down at the back of the bird.

2. Use kitchen shears to cut the backbone completely out, cutting through the ribs close to the backbone on each side.

3. Use a paring knife to cut underneath the breastplate on both sides, then lift to pop it out.  Use the knife to trim away any excess skin.

4. Flip the chicken over (breast side up, cut back down). Use your hands to press down gently on the breast to flatten out the carcass.

5. Now you're ready to rinse the chicken with water, pat dry with paper towels, and season with your favorite dry rub, or place in a marinade in the refrigerator, before cooking on your grill or smoker as usual.

The video below demonstrates how easy it is to spatchcock a chicken:

For the best results on your grill, I recommend using a Grill Grate and meat thermometer, and delaying any basting or saucing with BBQ sauce until the last 10 or 15 minutes of grilling.

Do you have a favorite spatchcock chicken recipe?  Please share by leaving a comment!

Zestfully yours,

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