In this post, I will show you step by step How To Spatchcock a Chicken (or a turkey). I think that this is something everyone should know how to do. If you love chicken, you owe it to yourself to learn this easy technique. It makes cooking a whole chicken so easy to do whether you are going to grill, BBQ, smoke, or roast the chicken in the oven.
I think the number one reason to spatchcock a chicken or a turkey is the speed at which you can cook your bird! You can literally cook a 5-pound chicken on the grill in less than 45 minutes. I have also cooked a 12-pound spatchcock turkey in just under 3 hours! Try that with a whole bird!
So whether you are grilling, roasting, BBQing, or smoking your bird, this is a technique you should consider. Of course, it won’t work if you are looking to do Beer Can Chicken! LOL
The idea behind spatchcocking is to flatten the bird out so that it will cook more evenly. Because it doesn’t have that large empty cavity and it receives even heat over the entire bird, it doesn’t take as long to cook.
What do you need to spatchcock a chicken?
Obviously, you need a whole chicken. After that, you simply need a flat work surface, like a large cutting board, and a pair of good quality kitchen shears.
Firstly, make sure that you have removed any of the gizzards and the neck from the cavity of the bird. Make sure you keep them. You can add them to the backbone you remove and the remains of the carcass to make wonderful homemade chicken stock.
Next, make sure that you have the bird sitting breast side down with the bottom towards you and the neck away from you. You want to keep the breast meat intact, so we remove the backbone.
Find the backbone using your fingers. Then using a pair of good quality kitchen shears or poultry shears, start to cut about 1 inch over to the right side of the backbone all the way to the neck.
Then make exactly the same cut along the left side of the backbone. You will feel some resistance as you cut through the bird. That is quite normal.
If you are spatchcocking a turkey, the cuts will be the same. The one small difference is you will want to cut a little farther away from the backbone, maybe 1 1/2 to 2 inches to the right and left of the backbone. The backbone of the turkey is larger than that of a chicken. You will also find that it will take significantly more effort to cut through the turkey.
Now that you have finished cutting down both sides of the backbone, you can remove it. Next, you need to flip the bird over so that the breast side is facing up.
It will take a little effort for this next step. To flatten the bird, you now have to break the breast bone.
With your hands overlapped over the center of the breast of the bird, you need to press firmly downward until you hear a crack. The breast bone should split, and the bird will now lay flat. Using the weight of your upper body works very well; you need to lean over the bird and press with your arms straight and shoulders over the bird.
The same procedure is used for spatchcocking a turkey. You will, however, need to apply more strength to break the breast bone of a turkey.
At this point, you can clip the wing tips off if you like or leave them on, either way. I find some people like them on, and some like to remove them. You can now season, marinate or brine your bird.
Seasoning your bird is the next step. Remember you want to season both sides of the spatchcocked bird well. You can simply salt and pepper your bird and cook it, or you can add some additional flavors like seasonings, rubs, or marinades.
I find that using a wet brine works best if you are cooking a whole bird that is not spatchcocked. Remember, wet brining will add moisture to the meat, and I think this is important if you are cooking it for a long time.
When you spatchcock a bird, it shortens the cooking time, so I personally don’t think a wet brine is needed. If it is marinated and/or seasoned well, your bird will come out moist and wonderfully tasty!
If you are grilling your spatchcocked bird, you can simply put it directly on the grill over medium-low heat. It is the same with smoking your bird; place the bird directly on the rack breast side up in your smoker.
If, on the other hand, you are going to roast your spatchcock bird in the oven, you can’t just put it in a roasting pan. You need to place the bird breast side up on a wire rack over top of a baking sheet to catch the drippings. If you don’t have a rack, then vegetables work great too.
The key to cooking a spatchcocked bird is to have air circulation around the bird during the cooking process.
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Pin it HERE!!