Plain Talk About Food: Spatchcocking a Chicken
by Colly Gruczelak
Aug 21, 2014 | 519 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
Mention to anyone that you are serving Spatchcocked Chicken for dinner and the ladies will blush, the men will frown and the children will giggle.

Ireland has been using this method of grilling or roasting a whole chicken since the early 18th Century, and you will find this term used by professional chefs in their kitchens today when they are preparing chicken, quail, duck, capons or turkey for their ovens or grills.

To spatchcock the chicken, the backbone is removed so the whole chicken can be opened up to lie flat. This is easily done by using poultry or sturdy kitchen shears. .

Grilling or roasting a chicken that has been spatchcocked will enable the white and dark meat to cook evenly, resulting in completely cooked dark meat and white meat that is completely cooked and not overdone and dried out.

Method: Place the whole chicken, breast down on a cutting board covered with a towel. Using the shears, cut down the left side of the chicken’s backbone from the tail end to the neck end. Then do the same down the right side of the backbone.

Pull the chicken apart and turn over. Press firmly down on chicken, flattening it as much as possible. DO NOT cut the chicken apart. Dry chicken well with paper towels. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set the oven rack to middle of the oven.

- Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at

Spatchedcocked Chicken (Serves 4)

Compound butter:

Mix together and let sit ½ hour for flavors to meld.

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme plus 2 sprigs for pan

1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary plus 2 sprigs for pan

2 Tbsp. soft butter.


Method: Slip your hand between the skin of the chicken breast and the meat, creating a pocket. Spread half the compound butter in each breast pocket of the chicken. Massage the skin, distributing the butter under the skin evenly. Rub the dried chicken with 2 tsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. of paprika. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.


Thinly slice 2 large navel oranges and spread out on a jellyroll pan lined with aluminum foil. Place thyme and rosemary sprigs on top of orange slices.


Lay chicken skin side up on top of oranges. Bake 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours until thermometer reaches 160 F. Let chicken rest 15 min. to redistribute juices before carving.


An excellent side dish for this chicken is steamed Jasmine Rice with sliced almonds and oranges.


Jasmine Rice (serves 4)


1 ½ cup boiling water

1 tsp. salt

¾ cup Jasmine rice, rinsed.


Bring rice to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low for 10 minutes. Shut off heat and let stand 10 minutes. With 2 forks, fluff rice and stir in 2 Tbsps. each of almond slices and diced fresh oranges. Serve with Spatchcocked Chicken.




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