Spatchcocked and Braise-Roasted Whole Chicken

March 30, 2021
9 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

About a decade ago, I went to a cooking demonstration at Macy's by Christopher Hirscheimer. She showed the crowd her trick for making it easy to carve roasted chicken -- she simply cut out the chicken's backbone before roasting, then she reshaped the bird and trussed it to hold it together. Spatchcocking is a similar technique except instead of re-shaping the bird, you flatten it, making it possible to grill or saute a bird in one layer. Fast forward to this fall. At a dinner with some fellow food52ers in Boston, our conversation touched on chef Gordon Hammersley's technique of "braise-roasting" poultry -- where he submerges the meat in broth and leaves the skin exposed to the oven heat. I thought it was time to get in the kitchen to try the combo of spatchcocking and braise-roasting. As usual, rather than do any research, I winged it, occasionally calling out to Merrill for advice. Here are the results! —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • One 4 to 4 1/2 pound chicken
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, lightly smashed (skins left on)
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup fino sherry or dry white wine
  • About 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lemon, cut into thin slices (skin left on; seeds discarded)
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Using poultry shears, cut the backbone out of the chicken. Reserve the backbone. Turn the chicken skin-side-up and press down on the breast bone to flatten the chicken. Generously season the chicken all over.
  2. In a casserole pan or other low shallow pan large enough to fit the flattened chicken, melt the butter in the oil over medium high heat. When the foam subsides, add the chicken skin-side-down, and the backbone, and brown well, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove to a plate. Pour off all but 1 1/2 tablespoons fat.
  3. Set the pan back on the stove. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook over medium heat until the shallot has softened, about 2 minutes. Add the rosemary, sage and sherry. Increase the heat and boil off nearly all the sherry. Add 1 cup chicken broth and the lemon slices. Gently lower the chicken back into the pan, again skin-side up.
  4. If needed, add more broth to come 1/2-inch up the side of the pan. Transfer the pan to the oven, and braise-roast until the chicken is cooked through (an internal temperature of 165 degrees), 30 to 50 minutes.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes -- uncovered, or the skin will soften! Carve the bird. Strain the pan juices and adjust the seasoning. Serve bird and cooked-down broth, and enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • bellly
  • Cody E.
    Cody E.
  • Sammy
  • Madina Kassengaliyeva
    Madina Kassengaliyeva
  • LindaSK
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

93 Reviews

murrboysmom October 31, 2021
I cook a lot of chicken and have roasted, smoked and BBQ'd chicken. I'm in love with this technique. I'm so happy I was cruising Food52 today and landed on this one!
Amanda H. October 31, 2021
I'm so glad you found this, too! Thanks for letting us know.
bellly March 30, 2021
Perfect whole chicken recipe. (I didn’t have any wine though so I just used more chicken broth.)
Cody E. November 21, 2018
I love spatchcocked chicken! The first time I tried it, I was intimated by the "cutting of the chicken," but I have to say it is so worth it! It comes out so juicy and tender and delicious! Also, just a side note... try grilling a spatchcocked chicken! The flavor profiles of the smoked meat along with the seasonings are melt in your mouth yummy goodness!
sue_ann_canvasser November 19, 2018
Can we do this with a turkey?
Amanda H. November 20, 2018
If you feel comfortable making adjustments to the cooking time and increasing seasonings, wine, and broth, then yes should work!
Sammy November 19, 2018
This may be obvious to better cooks, but what becomes of the roasted backbone?
I’m making this for Thanksgiving.
Amanda H. November 19, 2018
It mostly just flavors the sauce, but you can pull any meat off the bone and add it to the sauce.
Sammy November 19, 2018
Sorry, I just noticed your photos and comments, including purpose of the backbone. Hate to have wasted your time. Can’t wait to make this. By the way, Whole Foods Market is always happy to remove the back bone and keel.
Sf2oak May 29, 2018
Made this chix with very few modifications- came out very well. Texture/moisture of chicken excellent. Great technique. I have a lot of leftover sauce- any ideas for use?
Amanda H. November 20, 2018
Tessa May 3, 2018
Would Marsala wine be a good substitute for the sherry or white wine?
Amanda H. May 3, 2018
It will be sweeter but I think it would be good!
fearlessem April 18, 2018
Made this a few nights ago and two guests went bonkers for it, calling it the best roast chicken they've ever had. I roasted a sheet pan's worth of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions at the same time, using some of the fat that had rendered from the browning of the chicken. Killer.
Amanda H. April 19, 2018
What a great comment to receive -- thanks for sharing!
Madina K. February 8, 2018
I added some carrot coins and they were delicious! My 17-month old ate an entire quarter chicken (leg and thigh) in one sitting! Delicious!
LindaSK April 3, 2017
Amanda, in the 70s when I was living in NYC, my husband & I had the privilege of seeing Julia Child cook a chicken this way...with Paul in the front row timing her! We were remembering this the other day & I've been searching through my recipes & cannot find hers :-( Hence a search of Food52's website & here I am! She included potatoes, onions, carrots & parsnips in the pan with the chicken as well. Looking forward to a delicious dinner tonight!
Amanda H. April 5, 2017
What a great story -- thanks for sharing! Hope you liked the recipe, too.
Deb I. March 21, 2017
Made this for dinner last night. Absolutely delicious. Loved the crispy skin, the short cooking time, the moist flesh. (Had the butcher do the spatchcock part.) See photo on Twitter @DebHendrix2.
Two T. September 26, 2016
This was so delicious! I will make it again and again. I added potatoes, diced small, in with the shallot and let them cook beneath the chicken. Divine.

Can anyone recommend a good pan for this? One that is oven and stovetop safe and fits a 4lb chicken? I ended up using a 10 inch cast iron skillet when I slided it into the oven with the braise and aromatics--mine wasn't quite large enough for browning the chicken in the beginning though so I ended up using a different pan for that.
Amanda H. September 26, 2016
Not to push something in our shop but I now use this pan for cooking all sorts of roasts and braises:
It's enameled cast iron so it holds heat super well and also works on both stovetop and oven.
Mauree September 7, 2016
Oh my I did it, I spatchcocked! It's in the oven, smells divine. I used lime as I didn't have lemon!
Amanda H. September 7, 2016
Can I. January 9, 2016
I made this tonight for the second time and it is so darn good. Usually my husband does a whole chicken on the grill very week or so, so I don't get to cook a whole chicken often. This recipe is so delicious and so easy and the oven temp allows you to simultaneously roast vegetables. Tonight I roasted whole carrots and cubed white sweet potato. We ate everything with the fantastic pan juices and my husband kept saying how delicious everything was. I just stashed the leftover pan juices in the fridge and will be figuring out tomorrow how to use them. Thank you Amanda! I forgot to mention that I discovered at the last minute that I didn't have chicken stock, so used 4 oz. white wine and 4 oz. water and threw in the chicken neck for flavor. Fantastic!
Amanda H. January 9, 2016
So happy to hear this! If you have any chicken left, you could pull it into small pieces and serve it with the pan juices over cooked farro or wheat berries. Just an idea!
Can I. January 9, 2016
Thank you, Amanda. That sounds great.
elf1 December 30, 2014
Simply delicious! The hot reduced juices are fab over a little gem salad, served with crushed roast new potatoes....scrummy!
SleepyG November 18, 2014
Yummmmmm. Is it weird to eat leftover chicken for breakfast? Oh well if so! Thank you thank you thank you thank you for making my husband use the word, "delicious". He notoriously says "good" in response to dinner which isn't good enough for me:)
Peter S. November 10, 2014
Made this tonight along with sriracha-roasted cauliflower and pearled couscous with shallot, shitakes, and baby spinach. Spectacular!!!
Amanda H. November 14, 2014
And where was my invitation? :)
Ashley M. December 25, 2013
Made this for our Christmas dinner tonight with some smashed potatoes and oven roasted Brussels sprouts. As someone who has spent an entire year boasting that the Zuni Cafe roast chicken was THE BEST roast chicken in the entire world, I'm having mixed emotions when it comes to this one, because this was, without a doubt, the most moist, juicy, savory, delicious roast chicken I have ever had. My boyfriend said I was making inappropriate noises while eating it. I'm in love with not only everything about the chicken, but the broth itself. I strained the leftover broth and have stuck it in the fridge until I can figure out what to do with it - I really don't want it to waste, it's too good! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!
Amanda H. December 26, 2013
Ashley Marie, I don't know if I'll ever receive a better comment on a recipe -- thank you, and merry Christmas!
Ashley M. December 26, 2013
Merry Christmas to you too! Thank YOU for sharing it - REALLY! ;) Any ideas on what to do with the strained broth?
Amanda H. December 26, 2013
The first thing that comes to mind is stracciatella (Italian egg-drop soup) -- you'd probably have to add chicken broth or water to your saved broth to get the right volume, but I thought of this because the flavor of this soup is so much about the broth. Here's Merrill's recipe for it:
Ashley M. December 26, 2013
It's in the low 20F's here, so that soup sounds wonderful tonight, especially after all the heavy food we've been eating this week! Thanks again!
Sarah October 28, 2013
I have made this several times--great recipe. Last time, I tried deboning two chickens (leaving in the drumstick and retying so they look like whole birds). Browned and the cooked them side-by-side in the braise and people RAVED about it. And so simple to carve.
Pat E. October 12, 2013
Yum! ....once again....