Don’t think you have time after work to roast a chicken for the family on a weeknight? Think again! Learn to master this easy technique and you’ll not only be more time-efficient in the kitchen, but feel a little more chef-y too!

The French coined the term “spatchcock” when referring to a young chicken. However, spatchcock is also a method of preparation where the chicken’s backbone is removed and the bird attened in order to reduce the cooking time. It is so effective that it can cut the cooking time of a roast chicken almost in half when compared to roasting whole.

Tip: chop your favourite vegetables into small pieces and add them to the pan, placing the chicken on top, and everything will be ready at the same time!

6 steps to spatchcock a chicken (or any bird):

  1. Find the backbone of the chicken.
  2. Use scissors to cut down one side of the backbone and then back up the other side of the bone.
  3. Flatten the chicken by pressing down on the breastbone so the legs and wings are splayed to the sides.
  4. Wash the chicken with lemon juice, pat dry and season, brine or marinate as desired (see recipe below).
  5. Roast in a preheated oven at 375o F for 45-50 minutes until a thermometer reads 160o F. Then increase heat to 400o F and let the chicken brown for another 5 minutes.
  6. Let rest before carving.

Now that you can roast chicken in no time, here are a few ways to add extra edible character into your bird:

Beer Brine
1 bottle beer (use what you like to drink; the chicken will taste like the beer)
1 Tbs paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, peeled and grated 3 Tbs kosher salt
4 bay leaves

  • Combine all ingredients in a large container or bag. Add spatchcocked chicken and let brine in fridge for a minimum of 12 hours. Turn the bag occasionally to make sure the marinade covers the chicken.

Note: the seasoning mixture is not overly spicy; adjust to your heat tolerance.

Buttermilk Marinade
1 chicken, spatchcocked
11⁄2 cups (375 mL) buttermilk
2 tsp black pepper
3 Tbs kosher salt
1 onion, grated
1 lemon, zested
5 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, crushed
few sprigs thyme, rosemary, and sage leaves

  • Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag or container, and add in the remaining ingredients.
  • Make sure the chicken is thoroughly covered. Place in fridge and let marinate for up to 24 hours (a minimum of 12 hours is ideal).
  • Turn the bag upside down a couple of times throughout the day to make sure the marinade covers the chicken evenly.
  • Remove chicken from the container and pat dry. Season with black pepper and rub liberally with butter.

Za’atar Rub
Yields approximately 2/3 cup of za’atar rub, enough for 2 chickens.

A dry rub is also great for adding flavour, and the chicken can be cooked straight away or kept in the fridge 24 to 48 hours to absorb the flavours.

2 Tbs sesame seeds, toasted
3 tsp ground sumac
1 Tbs sea salt
1 Tbs dried thyme
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried basil
2 tsp dried marjoram

  • Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl to use as desired.

You’ll find that it’s hard to go back to roasting a whole chicken after discovering this dinnertime hack.

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