Chicken is probably the most popular go-to meat to whip up for dinner, but the same recipe served over and over can get tired, real fast. Luckily, you can jazz things up by learning a new technique, such as how to “spatchcock” chicken. Spatch-what? Don’t sweat it, there are any number of videos and tips on the Internet that’ll guide you in your first attempt.
The technique—splitting, then flattening a chicken—yields a perfect roasted chicken at least 15 minutes faster than a whole roasted bird. It also exposes more skin, which crisps up nicely at higher temperatures. Plus it’s much easier to serve because where to cut to separate the leg from the breast is completely obvious.
Our recipe, Spicy Asian Grilled Chicken, is a riff on the more familiar Italian-Style Gas-Grilled Chicken under a brick, and replaces Italian seasonings with soy, sake and chili garlic sauce. The meal actually came to fruition from the fact that we had a half bunch of Chinese broccoli leftover and wanted to use it up before it went bad. So Asian flavors permeated not only the chicken, but also our stir-fry of Chinese broccoli, mushrooms and scallions.
After rinsing the Chinese broccoli, the stems were separated and chopped separately from the leaves because they need to be cooked longer in the wok.
We stir-fried the vegetables with minced garlic and ginger while the chicken rested.
You’ll love that you won’t have dry, overcooked white meat or undercooked dark meat. Because the chicken is flat, the legs are exposed to more heat and cook thoroughly, while the breasts stay juicy. Excellent! Only one flip required, so grab yourself a cold one.
It gets more interesting because you’ll be using your beloved cast-iron skillet. Placing the pan on the chicken while it cooks ensures that the skin will be evenly browned and well rendered—don’t skip this step. And make sure to use an oven mitt or dish towel to safely grip and maneuver the hot skillet, or things could get ugly fast…
Our bird was about 3 3/4 pounds purchased fresh from the Amish Farmer’s Market.
- 1, 3 1/2-4 lb. whole chicken, spatchcocked
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
- 6 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/4 c rice wine or sake
- 1 Tbsp. chili garlic sauce
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the chicken and set aside.
- Spatchcock the chicken: Place chicken breast-side down, with the legs towards you. Using sturdy scissors or poultry shears, cut up along each side of the parson’s nose and backbone to remove it, cutting through the rib bones as you go. Open the chicken out and turn over. Flatten the breastbone with the heel of your hand so that the meat is all one thickness. (Reserve and freeze the backbone for homemade stock.)
The chicken backbone is cut out and removed to flatten the poultry.
- Fold the chicken to slide into a gallon size ziploc bag. Pour in the mixture and seal the bag. Flatten chicken as best you can and refrigerate for an hour, turning the bag every 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade onto a platter and pour the contents of the ziploc bag into a small pan. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, add the honey, reduce and let simmer for 20 minutes or so while it thickens.
- Turn all burners to high. Place your cast-iron skillet on cooking grate. Heat with lid down until very hot, about 15 minutes. Scrape cooking grate clean. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).
Make sure to oil the bottom of the hot skillet so that it doesn’t stick to the skin.
- Place chicken skin-side down over cooler side of grill with legs facing fire, oil bottom of hot skillet and place lengthwise over breasts, cover grill, and cook until skin is lightly browned and grill marks appear, 25 to 28 minutes.
- Remove skillet from chicken. Using tongs or towel, grip legs and flip chicken (chicken should release freely from grill; use thin metal spatula to loosen if stuck), skin-side up, with breast facing the cool part of the grill. Place skillet over bird, cover grill, and cook until chicken is well browned, about 15 minutes.
The chicken is flipped to breast side up before replacing hot skillet.
- Transfer chicken to cutting board, baste with reduced mixture, and let rest 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Carve chicken and serve, passing any remaining sauce.