Flatten The Bird

October 28, 2020
11 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes 1
What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Flatten The Bird
  • one 3-pound chicken (see note*)
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt (see note**)
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, rosemary, or other herbs of your choosing
  1. Flatten and marinate the bird according to the instructions in the video.
  2. Lay the bird meat side up first and evenly sprinkle half of the salt and pepper on top. Flip it over, skin side up now, and evenly sprinkle on the rest of the seasoning. Let the bird marinate and air-dry uncovered in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 8 hours.
  3. In a cold, dry, flat, nonstick skillet that will fit the entire spread-out chicken, lay the bird skin side down, making sure the skin is spread out without any folds. Set the skillet over medium-low heat (on a scale of 1 to 10, I would say a 3.5) on a burner that is wide rather than focused in the center, then partially cover the skillet with a lid.
  4. The skin will slowly render down and crisp up, resulting in the chicken eventually cooking in its own fat. It won't need much babysitting and should take about 25 to 28 minutes for the skin to become evenly golden brown, blistered, and crispy. If not, turn up the heat a bit in the end to achieve this. In the last 5 minutes, add the garlic and thyme, which will infuse the oil and flavor the chicken as well. When the skin is fully crisped up, the meat side should be about 50 to 60 percent cooked through, looking slightly opaque.
  5. Now flip the chicken over and cook the meat side for another 3 minutes. If your chicken is bigger than 3 pounds, you may need a bit more time. Finding the sweet spot when the meat is *just* cooked through but not a minute longer is paramount to its final juiciness and succulence.
  6. Let the chicken rest for a couple minutes before serving. Do not forgo the extremely flavorful but often overlooked meat along the backbone, collecting deliciousness from the neck meat down to the oysters by the thigh area and a strip of crispy skin on the entire runway.
  7. * My chicken was relatively small, about 3 pounds. You can certainly use a larger chicken; just adjust the amount of seasoning and the cooking time accordingly.
  8. ** Avoid any garlic or onion powder in the seasoning, which will burn easily and become sticky. Keep the seasonings simple—just salt and pepper—and introduce other aromatics later on in the cooking process.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Yoko Momoyama
    Yoko Momoyama
  • s8ndyleung
  • Matt
  • cttrojan
  • Samuel Hsiao
    Samuel Hsiao

30 Reviews

louisw December 8, 2022
The times were spot on for a three pound chicken and it fit perfectly in my 12-inch non-stick skillet. My flattening technique needs more practice I think. Somehow my wings ended up fatty side up. I used oregano and carrot tops as my herbs and it turned out great. Most of the flavor comes from the white pepper, so don't skip that.

Definitely separate all the major joints, including the wings, before cooking because this will help the chicken lay flatter. As a bonus, it'll make serving easier too. Lastly, I've noticed using air-chilled chicken makes a noticeable difference in skin crispiness.

Great recipe, will definitely be making it again!
permieandy November 4, 2022
is there a reason you can't use a seasoned cast iron skillet? I don't have non stick. I feel like it should work in a cast iron pan especially if I rubbed it with a bit of ghee or some other high smoke point fat. could you provide me any insight? or do you consider an iron skillet that's well seasoned " non stick"? or do you mean only tephlon? thanks for any input
Mandy @. November 5, 2022
If your cast iron is super well seasoned you can try
Amalieknage February 20, 2022
I slated the flattened bird 24 hours ago and plan to cook it tonight. Was supposed to cook it last night but plans changed. I hope it will not have toughened the meat or something 🤞 anyone else has tried brining it longer than 8 hours?
Either way looking forward to try this genius idea 👍
Amalieknage February 20, 2022
bigredpdx January 1, 2022
It was a bit harder than I thought, but that was more my problem. Make sure your knife is sharpened and you have a plan for the splatter! Other than that, I will make this again. What a treat!
Truc N. April 7, 2021
I've made this 3 or 4 times now and the prep really does get easier once you've done it a couple of times! SO delicious!! My favourite way to make chicken
Ennassin February 26, 2021
I’ve made this twice so far, and will probably never make pan “fried” chicken any other way! The first time I cooked a whole, 5 lb chicken, cutting in half, using two pans because it wouldn’t all fit in one. Delicious, but a lot of work (for me) cutting up the chicken. The second time I just used bone-in thighs and WOW! Turned out perfectly: texture, color, taste. Reeeally listen when Chef Mandy says dry, dry, dry the chicken skin with a paper towel after refrigerating, and... use a NONSTICK pan. Brava, Chef Mandy <3
Pizzaman February 26, 2021
Interesting. Did you slice the thighs open so they lay flat for just put them in the pan whole? Thanks
Mandy @. February 27, 2021
Has to be opened up;)
Pizzaman February 15, 2021
I tried this recipe today. I was pleased but I could have done better. The bird was 4.25 lbs. Did everything as explained but the bird did not produce anywhere near the amount of oil as in the video. It got crispy, but not as crispy as I would have liked. So when it was done I flipped the skin side over once more to crisp it up some more but all that did was take the crisp away. DOH!! It was juicy and tasty. I will try again to do better and overall pleased with the recipe. Thanks for the recipe.
Stuart E. February 6, 2021
I watched this video on you tube. it doesn’t fast forward.
disaster. the entire skin stuck to the bottom of the pan. Trying to pull the chicken off the bottom of the pot the chicken came apart.
because I got the smallest chicken at the store 4.5lbs I used a non stick very large dutch oven type pot so the bird would fit. Followed the directions to the letter including 6hrs in the fridge to dry and it was very dry.
I scraped what skin I could get off the bottom, threw the shredded falling apart chicken mess back in the pot and finished it in the oven at 325°f for 20 min. Tasted alright... though not pretty.
reub February 14, 2021
The enamel surface isn't non-stick enough. You really need teflon to do this properly. But if you do, it's phenomenal.
Yoko M. January 31, 2021
This was one of best chicken dish I’ve made in my kitchen! The breast portion was most tender, almost better than the brown meat which is usually my preferred meat. Even though the spice is simple, it tasted as if the chicken had lemon in it. I used plenty sea salt and crushed black peppers. Dissecting chicken doesn’t bother me so I will no longer buy chicken anywhere and I will be making this dish from now on!! Thank you!
s8ndyleung January 6, 2021
The chicken was very flavorful and tender, our whole family loved it! The only issue I had when cooking was getting the skin to crisp up as it cooked, I had a 5lbs chicken and had pt it down to dry several times throughout the 5/6 hrs it was in the fridge, but for some reason, quite a bit of liquid/juice came out when it was cooking, and resulting in less than crispy skin (still golden though). Does anyone have tips on how to dry the chicken completely to achieve the crispy skin? Or is it a matter of cooking with a smaller chicken?
cttrojan January 22, 2021
We have some big old birds in the US. I found I had to trim away some of the meat (and save it for later) in order to get the bird small & flat enough to fit in my 12" cast iron skillet without crowding. Like you, I dry brined it for 5-6 hours to offset the girth, and I think that helped a lot. Maybe check that your bird isn't pre-plumped/enhanced also?
Deb February 1, 2021
I used a HALF a 4 pound bird in a 12" skillet. You want to be able to spread your bird out so it can fry flat without crowding. Some birds are fat tier and release more oil. I've had one release a LOT and another, not so much. It depends on the age and diet of the bird. In any case, I love eating the skin and feel a little better that the fat is left in the pan and not on my fork. Try cooking the bird, if oversized, in separate batches.
Samuel H. April 2, 2021
Buy air chilled chicken
Afternoonbrew December 22, 2020
If you’re like me and you’ve never flattened a bird, look for another video demonstrating that. This video fast forwarded through that part of the instructions making it difficult to follow.
Ann G. February 16, 2021
Check her Instagram account for the slow detail version-she is extremely thorough.
mboden December 21, 2020
I'm planning to do this recipe for Christmas but given the number of guests, we would need 2 chickens. Unfortunately, I don't have the space to cook using two big pans on the stovetop. Could I cook one and rest it in a low temp oven while the second cooks?
Mandy L. December 21, 2020
Maybe... but the first one may be drier than the second
Deb November 17, 2020
Well, I made this chicken and IT WAS AWESOME!!! Really easy to cook, only a bit more fussing for prep, the timing was pretty spot-on. Only made a half chicken because I was only cooking for myself and it worked the same as the video. Plus, the "dripping" that resulted from the fat being rendered made a fabulous base for gravy and already in the skillet to make the gravy in. I had to remove some of the fat for my roux, but didn't have to scrape out a roasting pan to capture all of the fond. The meat was very juicy and evenly cooked so the breast was as moist as the dark meat, probably from splitting the thighs and drums so they cooked at the same speed as the breast meat. This was a great addition to my chicken repertoire. Thank you!!!
Petra N. November 17, 2020
1st try made this wkend.
Would love to see the full video without it fast forwarding in places. For the novice that’s never deboned or flattened a chicken, it’d be really great to have the video in real time so you’re not trying to pause/rewind the video on your phone with major chicken hands.
And she is right on: NONSTICK 12” pan. My enthusiasm couldn’t be held back by the realization that my biggest nonstick had sides that were too rounded. So I went with my giant le creuset pot.
The chicken was delicious & juicy, and the skin...but it was mostly eaten in the form of bits scraped off the bottom of the pot.
You know what’s on my Christmas list.
lovehandles December 21, 2020
I had the same reaction. The video is very helpful but it speeds up just at the point I was finding hardest to follow!
Mandy @. December 22, 2020
It’s because the full video is on their YouTube channel :)
Ann G. February 16, 2021
See Mindy’s Instagram account-it’s all there
Matt October 28, 2020
OMG, this is how i make chicken too. I thought I was alone.
Matt October 28, 2020
OMG, this is how i make chicken too. I thought I was alone.
Deb October 28, 2020
This method looks awesome! I normally spatchcock and roast but this looks so much better! Thank you!