A spatchcock or spatchcocked chicken is a chicken with the backbone removed and cut so that it will lay flat. This allows the chicken to be spread out or opened up like a book, which makes it cook more quickly and evenly.
Spatchcock chickens are perfect for grilling but they can also be broiled or baked quite successfully. You’ll have perfectly cooked chicken in much less time. Unlike whole roasted chicken, the breast is less likely to overcook while the thighs reach their optimum temperature.
The origin of the term spatchcock is uncertain. Some speculate it derived from the phrase “dispatching the cock” to get it ready to roast on a spit. The Italians have their own peculiar term for it, alla diavola, meaning “like the devil.” The shape of the flattened chicken is thought to resemble the devil’s face, with the legs being his horns. Don’t let this stop you from trying it! Spatcocking a chicken is sometimes called butterflying.
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How to Spatchcock or Butterfly a Chicken
To spatchcock or butterfly a chicken, you are essentially splitting it along the back. The easiest tool to us for this is [ kitchen shears], but a very sharp boning knife] can also be used. The first step is to remove the backbone, which is quite simple, especially with a smaller bird. The video below shows a simple technique. Some chefs use more cuts, also removing the wishbone.
In the video, the breastbone or sternum is removed. This is not technically required. Some cooks leave this bone in, claiming that it helps retain moisture and flavor. It is entirely up to you.
This next video shows a more complex technique.
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