Dead Simple Spatchcock Chicken
©2001, The Naked Whiz

A very simple recipe for grilling delicious whole chicken in less time than it would take to roast a whole chicken. Faster than beer can chicken, too! The results are juicy and delicious!

What does it mean to spatchcock piece of poultry? It's a term that is thought to have originated in 18th century Ireland. It means to cut the backbone out of the chicken so you can open it up and press it flat. Similar to butterflying, but not the same. (You can read about the origins and meaning of the word in our article "Where Did The Word Spatchcock Come From?")


Preparation Directions:

Spatchcock the chicken. These pictures show how it is done:

1) The chicken should be breast down. This means the legs are under the bird, and the wings are on top.
2) Start by cutting just beside the backbone. You can start from either end, but in this photo, we turned the bird so the wings are towards us.
3) Cut through the ribs right along the backbone.
4) Here, the cut has been made all the way from front to back.
5) Start the second cut just on the other side of the backbone.
6) Here is the bird with the backbone completely cut out.
7) Spread the bird open and turn it over.
8) Press down on the bird until it lies relatively flat. You may hear some bones cracking. Congratulations!! You have just spatchcocked a chicken!

Cooking Directions:

Stabilize your egg at 375°. (You may wish to use a hotter temperature for crispier skin, although we have found the path to crispy skin lies in letting the bird sit, uncovered, for 24-48 hours in your regrigerator.) Place two packets of BBQr's Delight Orange Wood Pellets (follow their directions on the package to prepare the little foil packets) on the fire. You should be able to find these at Ace Hardware and Wal*Mart. Or use the smoking wood chunks of your choice. After you begin to see smoke, place the chicken on the grid, skin side up.

As you can see in the photo, we use a raised grid and no drip pan or barrier. This is a direct cook. We did this to make get the chicken higher up in the dome, but it also helps with grease flameups, etc. (On the other hand, if you find smoke from burning fat is a problem, you can always rig a drip pan beneath the bird to catch the drippings. Cook 1 to 1½ hours. You are then done. There is no need to turn the chicken over.

Be sure to use the standard methods for determining if poultry is done. Does the leg move freely? Do the juices run clear? Does an instant-read thermometer read 160° in the breast and 180° in the thigh?

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