To spatchcock a chicken, or butterfly it, is to remove the backbone, thus allowing it to be completely opened out and flattened. Among the benefits of spatchcocking are a quicker cooking time, easier carving and a moister chicken.
But where did this weird name come from? The term “spatchcock” is rumored to be a 17th century shorthand for “dispatching the cock”, meaning to open a chicken carcass in order to cook it faster.
How do you do it? Place chicken on a large cutting board and Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Arrange the chicken breast-side down on the cutting board with the neck facing towards you. Using good-quality kitchen shears holding the neck and cut along one side of the chicken spine, separating it from the ribs. Be sure to cut as close to the spine as you can so that you do not end up discarding any more of the chicken meat than necessary. Repeat on the other side of the spine. If you are having difficulty getting through the bird, rotate it so that the tail faces you and cut from the other side.
Flip the chicken so that the breasts face upward and the chicken legs face outward. Using the palm of your hands, press along the breast bone. You might hear a small crack. This should flatten the chicken completely.
How do you cook it? We start our chicken low and slow at 250 degrees for 3 hours the oven, then finish on the grill. It's important to flip your spatchcock chicken on the grill so it cooks evenly and chars on both sides. Need a speedier version? Cook in oven at 450 degrees for 40 minutes.
With both cooking methods the thermometer should reach 160 degrees. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving.