Saturday, 19 April 2014

How To Spatchcock a Chicken






"Spatchcock" refers to the technique of removing the backbone and splitting the sternum of a bird so that it lays flat. This makes it ideal for grilling or roasting as it will cook more evenly. This is sometimes referred to as "butterflying". In this post I'll show you how to spatchcock a chicken. Though the basic technique can be applied to most birds including pheasant, quail, grouse, duck and pigeon. 

All you need to spatchcock a chicken are a sharp knife and a pair of kitchen shears. If you don't have kitchen shears (or a good pair of scissors) you can do the entire process with just a sharp knife. It's just a lot quicker and easier with shears.

To begin, place the chicken in front of you with the back of the bird facing you, as seen below. This chicken was trussed with string when I bought it. That's what the two indentations are across the back. Your chicken may not have those marks. 





Hold the chicken steady by firmly pinching the nub of the tail. With your other hand, use the kitchen shears to cut all the way up one side of the spine (backbone) of the chicken. 





Then use the shears to cut up along the other side of the spine. Use the nub of the tail as a guide. Otherwise, the incision should be about 2 centimetres across from the first one you made. Once you've removed the backbone, reserve it as it can be used to make stock with later (freeze if you don't plan to use within a few days). With that removed, you should be able to open the chicken up kind of like a book. The breastbone will prevent it from laying perfectly flat, you will notice. So in the meantime it kind of looks like something out of the Predator movies.





Let's take a look at the current situation from another angle. Here is a close up of the collar of the chicken. Separating the two breasts is a kind of dagger shaped piece of cartilage. That's the sternum of the chicken. If you look above at the 'V' section where the shoulders meet. That's where you'll find the wishbone. Place the blade of your knife in the middle of the V-area and clip down. This will break the wishbone in half. If you push down on it with your hand, the sternum will pop out and expose itself.





It's up to you if you want to break and pull the breastbone (sternum) out or keep it in and simply slice through it with the knife. The latter is demonstrated below. Once the sternum is either removed or split in half, the chicken will lay evenly flat on your work surface. 




Although the appearance of it may be gruesome your spatchcocked chicken is ready to be seasoned, marinated and then grilled or roasted. This technique is stupendous for barbecue chicken, jerk chicken and Portuguese piri piri chicken, to name a few. Those are some ideas but you can do whatever you like with your chicken.




Pretty simple, right? This is a really useful way of preparing whole chicken or any bird. There are endless directions you can take your spatchcock chicken from here. Stay tuned to see what becomes of this one here on the blog.

I hope this post is useful to you. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Talk to you soon,

B

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