Poultry and Game Recipes, Technique

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

Last week, I restocked the fridge after returning home from a trade
show in Orlando (where we ate twice at a terrific local in-a-mall restaurant
called Ciao Italian Restaurant and at Fishbones, a chain but very good
fish and steak place with a well-trained wait staff).  For the second
night home, I selected a medium-sized roaster chicken and decided to spatchcock it since the poultry shears had not been used for a very long time.

Spatchcock is a culinary term of dubious origin that refers to a method
of preparing a bird for grilling.  Remove the backbone with two cuts of a poultry shears.  Flip the bird over and then spread and push the two breast halves out flat and align the legs. Davidson says that the term dates back to the 18th century.  Kamman describes the process as “frogging.” I heard about it from an Aussie, who said all Australian butchers know the cut since it is a popular method there for grilling chicken on “the barbe.”

The advantages are that the bird is spread out flat and evenly thick on the grill, thus promoting even-doneness.  When served, the legs and second joints can be removed easily and the breast meat can be sliced off nicely using a long thin blade. I marinated the chicken using about 3 tablespoons of Jamaican-Style Jerk Seasoning, a like amount of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, the juice of half an orange and salt and pepper. (For the seasoning, see Infused Oils and Spice Combinations .

Here comes the weird part:  After writing the above, I found an article on the same subject in the last issue of Gourmet, which I page through now and then at the library.  Its author missed the Australian connection, but explained what spatchcock was all about, referred to Davidson, and marinated the bird in a jerk-style seasoning!  I couldn’t believe it!

Well, with all the plagiarism scandals these days, full notification of the coincidence is  herein provided.  “Press on regardless and don’t spike this article,” say I.

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