How to CookChicken

How to Spatchcock a Chicken (or Turkey)

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Inspired by conversations on the FOOD52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today, we're showing you how to spatchcock (a.k.a. butterfly) any bird for quicker, more even cooking.

Spatchcocked Roast Chicken

"Spatchcocking" is just the fun way to tell people you're butterflying a bird, by taking out its backbone. Why would you do such a thing? Well, it's much easier than it may sound, and your chickens and turkeys will cook quickly and evenly -- cutting the time almost in half. Here's how you do it.

All you need are some strong kitchen shears and your bird -- this guy's a chicken, but, with a little practice, turkey works too. You can do this with a sturdy boning knife or chef's knife too, but scissors make for very easy navigation.

Start by snipping down along the spine (most people think of this as the underside of the bird). You can start from the tail or neck end, whichever is more comfortable.

Now snip down along the other side of the spine. Stay close, lest you lose any delicious thigh meat.

Now you have a spineless bird. Keep that spine for stock, or throw it in the roasting pan with the chicken for extra drippings and some good meaty bits to nibble on.

At this point, Amanda likes to truss it back together and roast it normally -- it'll still cook faster than a whole chicken, and it's a little easier to carve. For a lazy truss: tie off the ankles first.

Then tie the breast and wings up. Now you can roast as you normally would (just check it for doneness sooner) -- it looks like a chicken again, doesn't it?

Or, if you want to go for the full spatchcock, and even speedier cooking, skip the trussing and simply lay it flat. Push the breast down until you hear a pop -- this is the breastbone giving way.

A flattened chicken is a quick-cooking chicken.

Now, you can roast it, braise-roast it, or even grill it, in about half the time. Or you can tackle turkey next, for a swifter Thanksgiving meal.

Top photo by Sarah Shatz; all others by James Ransom

Tags: Tips & Techniques, DIY Food, How-To & Diy, Kitchen Confidence