Remember, two weeks ago, how excited I was to do this roasted chicken, just because of the word?

Spatchcocking isn’t a fancy concept, it’s the same as butterflying a chicken, really.  But instead of simply butterflying the breast, you’re butterflying the entire chicken.

The word might come from a combo of dispatch (like to kill) and cock (as in chicken).  There is also apparently something called spitchcocking, which is the same thing except with an eel.

And how do you spatchcock a chicken?  Well, you take some scissors or a knife and you cut out the backbone of the chicken.  Then spread it open and roast or grill it with the breasts facing up.

Yes, you read that correctly, backbone.

I didn’t take any pictures of the process because honestly . . . I hated every minute of it.  I read some instructions and watched a couple of YouTube videos.  Then I grabbed my scissors (which I very quickly realized were not quite sharp enough for this task) and  . . . yeah.

I’m not the biggest meat lover. But I’m not naive, I know where it comes from. I may not have spent a lot of time on farms in my day, nor do I truly understand the process of raising and butchering of an animal.  But I do understand that the chicken I’ve got on my salad, was once covered in feathers and lived on a farm of some kind.

So when I took my dull-ish scissors to the backbone of this chicken, I tried to remember that this is a part of the process of butchering a chicken, how they get the chicken breasts I buy in packages at the grocery store, and I’m learning something new here.

They say that the meals you enjoy the most are often the ones prepared by someone else.  But sometime over the past year + (especially while doing our 52 Week Challenge) I really tried to focus on enjoying the process as much as I enjoy the meal itself.  And maybe this makes me childish or dramatic, but I’m not sure I’m going to enjoy eating this chicken very much.  And I learned a lot in this month’s challenge, but I never want to cut the backbone out of a chicken ever again.

I will say, though, that if you can handle the prep process, spatchocking is a pretty great way to cook a chicken.  Even with my 4.5lb chickens (because 3.5lb chickens don’t exist) it only took about an hour at 400 to get it up to temperature.

I used a recipe from Mark Bittman (who is a great cookbook author).

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • salt & pepper

Mix it all up and baste every 10 minutes, rotating the chicken.  The sauce made the skin a little crispy, but it tasted delicious!  Carving wasn’t too bad, either.

I probably won’t be roasting a whole chicken ever again, or at least not without someone to assist during the not-so-fun parts.  But I am pretty happy about this month’s experience.  Have I mastered this essential?  Yeah, probably.

Now what does one do with the backbone of a chicken?



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