Food + Wine

Spatchcocked and Fully Loaded


No I didn’t make that up.  And no I’m not being dirty.  To spatchcock a chicken really just means to butterfly it.  You’re removing the back bone and flattening it out for grilling or roasting… It’s a great way to cook a whole bird in less time, plus you get some good browning action on all sides, because there’s more surface area exposed to the hot pan or grill.  And the tendency for breast meat to be dry is almost nonexistent when you cook it this way.

Wait… what did you think it meant?

So it sounds complicated, but it’s not.  It’s really and truly not.  I cook a chicken this way a lot.  I love a good roast chicken, done the traditional way, but this is just kinda fun for a change.  You can flavor your chicken any way you want to- go cumin and garlic and chili powder for a southwest feel… oregano and garlic for a Greek inspired meal… garam masala and/or yellow curry for an Indian inspired bird… the possibilities are endless!!

And this right here is a dish you’re doing entirely in one skillet- you’re prepping the bird in the cold skillet, seasoning it in there, then placing it on the stovetop to start cooking before transferring to the oven to finish up.  And then you get to serve it in the skillet- family style.  It’s a really cool presentation.


You have only one pan to clean when you’re done.

Pretty AND Practical?

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.



serves about 4, but you gotta fight over who gets dark and who gets white

First, we spatchcock.

Lay your 4-6 lb. chicken down in the largest skillet you own, a big ole cast iron works perfectly here, but ideally you need a skillet in the 14 inches range.  Lay the bird breast-side down, where the backbone is exposed.

Take a pair of kitchen shears and cut along each side of the backbone to remove it completely. (Save this for making stock later!)

Flip the bird over and press down to flatten it completely.

Now we rub ‘er down.  (Make this spice rub beforehand so you don’t have to stop and wash hands after you’ve buterflied your bird.)

s p i c e   r u b 

spice rub

In a small bowl, combine the following…

  • 1 TB fennel seeds, ground
  • 1 TB mustard seeds, ground
  • 1 TB coriander seeds, ground
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 TB kosher salt

Mix well and rub all over your bird- on all sides, on top of the skin and underneath wherever possible until it’s thoroughly seasoned.  (You will most likely not need all of this rub right now, unless your bird is abnormally large, but as long as you didn’t contaminate it, reserve it for next time you make this!)

(You can do this hours ahead of time, if need be, and refrigerate until you’re ready to get dinner cooked.)

Make sure the bird is breast-side down in the skillet and add in your veggies.

Arrange around the bird the following…

  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 handfuls of baby new potatoes or fingerlings, sliced in half lengthwise (OR 2-3 large parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks like the carrots…or a mixture of the two)
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 1/2 large lemon, sliced (reserve the other half for juicing later)
  • (any sturdy veggies would work here- sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, winter squash… I even like to add apples to the mix sometimes!)

(There is no need for extra oil or seasoning for the veggies.  The seasoning from the chicken, and the fat that will render from the skin will provide you with plenty!)

Place the cold skillet on the stovetop and turn the heat up to high.  Preheat the oven to 425.

As the skillet gets hot, the bird will begin to sear.  Let it do so, without touching or moving it around, for about 7 minutes.  Shake the pan to see if the skin will release.  It’s ready to flip when the skin comes away easily from the pan.

Flip the bird over, and also shake the pan a bit to stir up the veggies.  When you return the bird back to the pan, (reversed- skin side up this time), allow some of the veggies to cook underneath the bird.

Place the skillet in the preheated oven and cook for 45 minutes, or until the juices run clear when pricked.

Squeeze the juice of the reserved lemon half over everything before serving.

Sometimes I add a few handfuls of peas from the freezer and toss with the other veggies for another (and pretty) vegetable option.

Allow the bird to rest for 15-20 minutes before carving.

Serve hot and now.

And repeat often.

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