Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Simple Joy of Spatchcocked Chicken

So, you already have the "perfect recipe" for chicken?  Have you spatchcocked a chicken yet?  You should...

Increasing the surface area of the bird, so that the heat can attack it more uniformly, means a much more evenly cooked bird, with no dry spots and some amazing crispy skin!

You Will Need:
  • 1 whole chicken (thawed)
  • 1 pair kitchen shears
  • 1 schmear of olive oil
  • A few generous shakes of your favorite Poultry Seasoning
  • 1 oven rack -OR- 1 generous handful of cut carrots, celery, and onion
Behold!  The whole naked chicken.  some people are totally freaked out by it, and I get it... if the news reports you hear are even half true, then people out there DIE just from touching this slimy thing!  Calm down, it's not a biological weapon, it's just a chicken.  Take a deep breath, remove the bird from it's packaging and rinse it in cold water.  Pat it dry, lay it out on your cutting board (as shown), then wash your hands (with soap) and dry them thoroughly.  You are ready to begin!
Pick up your shears with your dominant hand.  This is now your "dry hand!"  Don't touch the bird with this hand, no matter how much you may be tempted!  This hand needs to remain clean and dry so that the shears won't slip.  Besides, if you get both hands all greasy with chicken slime, you'll contaminate the rest of your kitchen before you know it so... move the shears with this hand, and move the chicken with the other...
Use the shears to remove the spine.  Don't try to cut the whole thing out with one <Snip>, just nip your way up each side of the spine and set it aside for your stock pile.  Drop the shears into the sink, and turn your attention back to the bird.
Using your "slime hand," spin the bird around, 180 degrees, and open it up so that you can see the breast bone.  Use your dry hand to pick up a sharp filet knife, and slide the tip under the white cartilage in the center of the bird, and slide it down toward the top of the bird to expose the keel bone (breast bone).
The keel bone has to come out.  It has to... if this weren't called "spatchcocking," it would be called "De-Keelboning."  The easiest way to remove it is with your fingers so, drop your knife into the sink and allow your dry hand to join the party just long enough to hold the bird steady so you can wiggle and pull the keel bone free.  Pitch the keel bone and wash/dry your hands so you can prepare the rack!
Why the rack?  You want to keep the bird up off of the cooking sheet so the heat can circulate around it.  If you're using a smoker, fantastic!  If you're using your oven, you'll need to elevate the bird, so use a rack or spread out some onions, carrots, and celery first, then lay the bird out over the veggies.
Brush the rack with olive oil (or spray it with non-stick cooking spray) to keep the bird from sticking, then lay out your masterpiece, breast side up, and rub it down with oil. Viola!  You've spatchcocked a chicken!  Sprinkle on your favorite seasoning, rub, spices, etc.  I'm not a big fan of rosemary and herbs, but it's not a bad way to go, here.
Simple salt and pepper works, too!
Slip the cooking sheet into a 375 degree oven and pour yourself a relaxing beverage.  How long should it cook?  Depends on the size of the bird.  I jammed a thermometer probe into the breast and set it for 165.  Fifteen minutes per pound at this temperature is average.  If you're slow-smoking, you should definitely go by temp and not time!
When the bird is done, any juice running out should be clear, and the joints should be nice and loose...
So loose, in fact, that they simply pull away from the bird with a gentle tug!

This chicken was absolutely delicious, and it makes for a spectacular presentation if you're hosting a dinner party.  Simply slide the entire bird onto a platter, and surround him with the cooked vegetables or other goodness like cubed potatoes, roasted garlic and sweet potatoes, or sliced tomatoes and onions!

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