Several years ago, I was watching Oprah when I learned of this dish. I wasn't a regular viewer of her show, but I never wanted to miss an episode if she was featuring anything regarding food or cooking.
That afternoon in 2006 I fell in love with Nigella Lawson.
Nigella was beautiful to look at, listen to, and just... well... normal. She had a flair for refined food done simply. So simply, by the episode's end, she had me believing I could whip up a gourmet meal with no trouble.
And I did.
I have no idea if what I do today with this chicken recipe is exactly what Nigella suggested then, but I remember she was very loose with her instructions and seemed to celebrate personal taste and judgment. The following is what always works for me, but I too encourage you to try what you desire.
In my opinion, this combination can't get any better. It is a blend of all of my favorites, roasted to perfection, leaving a juicy meat on the inside and crisp, rich, flavorful skin on the outside. And have I mentioned how frugal this is as well? Who said fancy food has to be expensive? Look for whole chickens to go on sale, buy them, and freeze.
Now that I've given you all the reasons to try this, I do want to level with you regarding the spatchcock method. It's kind of icky. When I first tried my hand at it, I have to admit it was a bit exciting. I guess for me, in all my weird love of cooking adventures, I found it kind of fun. But I totally understand if it might gross you out. To save you from some of the goriness, I put the actual pictures on how to butterfly the bird in black-and-white. I figured we didn't need all the details.
To those of you who give this a go... I applaud you! You'll love the outcome and will feel so accomplished once you deliver the dish to the table! Expect some "o-o-o-h-s" and "a-h-h-h-s" from your guests or family. It's a beauty!
So, dear friends, here we go. Get your paper towels handy, your antibacterial soap ready, and your kitchen shears sharpened - this is gonna be fun!
How to Butterfly (or spatchcock) a Chicken
1.) After removing all items from the cavity of the bird, rinsing, and drying it, place chicken, breast-side down, on flat surface. To the right of the backbone (just right of center), use kitchen shears to cut all the way through to the opposite end.
2.) Do the same to the left of the backbone to completely remove the bone. Save for stock, if desired.
3.) Spread chicken, cut-side down, and flatten with palm of hand.
Congratulations! You just did the hardest part! Pat yourself on the back... um... after washing your hands, of course.
Spatchcock Chicken - makes one 3-4 lb. bird
- 1 3-4 lb. chicken, cleaned and butterflied
- 2-3 tbsp. Kosher salt
- 6 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced (I use sweet)
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 large Ziploc bag (gallon will usually work, but it's hard to squish the whole bird inside; extra-large ones work great)
~ Place chicken in bag and add oil, onion, garlic.
~ Strip waxy leaves of rosemary from the stalks and add all to the bag.
~ Squeeze juice of lemon halves into bag and put the halves in the bag as well.
~ Close the bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. Thoroughly squish ingredients in
bag around chicken and let marinate at least one day and up to two, squishing bag
~ When ready to cook, remove bag from fridge and bring to room temperature.
~ Heat oven to 425 degrees.
~ Place chicken cut-side down on foil-lined pan and cook at least 45 minutes or desired
Recipe inspired by Nigella Lawson
For safety purposes, the USDA suggests poultry should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.