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A Guide to Spatchcocking: Funny Name, Sensible Technique

Love cooking a whole chicken, but wondering how to do it quickly and easily on the grill? Wonder no more! The answer is spatchcocking, a simple technique that requires just a pair of poultry shears or heavy kitchen scissors and less than 5 minutes of your time.

Love cooking a whole chicken, but wondering how to do it quickly and easily on the grill? Wonder no more! The answer is spatchcocking, a simple technique that requires just a pair of poultry shears or heavy kitchen scissors and less than 5 minutes of your time.

Sometimes called “butterflying,” spatchcocking involves removing the back bone of the bird and pressing down on it so it lies fairly flat. This means that your chicken will grill up evenly, with breast meat and leg meat cooking at about the same rate, and you’ll reduce the total cooking time by about half. As a bonus, increasing the surface area of your bird gives you more great grilled flavor and terrifically crispy skin.

I first started spatchcocking chicken a few years ago, and now I use the technique on everything from tiny quail to Cornish hens to whole turkeys. And it works for roasting as well as grilling.

Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken

Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken

Here’s how to do it in three easy steps:

Step 1

Get out poultry shears or kitchen scissors, the best tools for cutting though poultry bones. Place the bird breast-side down on a cutting board.

Step 2

Starting at the tail end of the bird (the end with the fleshy knob), cut down one side of the backbone all the way to the neck end of the bird. Cut down the other side and remove the backbone (save it for stock!). Pull on either side of the rib cage of the bird to open it up slightly.

Step 3

Flip the chicken over so it’s now breast-side up. Use the palm of your hand to press down firmly on the bird, flattening it, until you hear the breastbone crack and the bird lies flat. That’s it! You’ve successfully spatchcocked the bird.

Grilled Spiced Beer Chicken

Grilled Spiced Beer Chicken

Now you’re ready to grill! For an effortless first go, you can just brush the bird with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place it on the grill. Or try our spice-rubbed Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken or browned and boozy Grilled Spiced Beer Chicken.

Have you tried spatchcocking before? Share your tips in the comments section below.

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