Spatchcocking isn't just a fun word to teach your kids to say on the playground. It's also a great way to get dinner on the table fast.
Also called butterflying, spatchcocking is just a simple prep technique that cuts down the time needed to roast a chicken. It does this by changing the shape of the bird, transforming it from a slow cooking football to a faster roasting slab. And the only special equipment you need is a sturdy pair of kitchen shears.
To do this, simply flip the uncooked chicken so the breasts are down. Starting at either the front or back end, find the center, where the backbone runs down the length of the bird. It will take a little oomph at first, but use the shears to cut down the length of the backbone on one side. Once you've cut all the way, repeat this on the other side of the backbone, which then should come out easily. If you're making stock, save the backbone for that. Otherwise, toss it out.
Now flip the bird over, grab the cut sides and spread the bird open. Press down on the bird between the breasts; the goal is to flatten it as much as possible. Once spatchcocked, the chicken can be seasoned and roasted as normal, but will take less time. A standard 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken roasted at 425 F will take almost an hour. A spatchcocked chicken takes about 35 minutes.
Now that you've mastered how to speed up your dinner, we'll help you jazz it up a bit. Why just roast a plain chicken when you could add tons of flavor to it? Here are 10 fresh ideas for making your weeknight chicken dinner way more interesting.
10 simple ways with roast chicken
Start with a 3- to 4-pound whole chicken. Remove any giblets and neck from the cavity, then use paper towels to pat it dry. Spatchcock the chicken as described above. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Follow one of the flavoring directions below, then roast at 400 F until the breast reaches 160 F and the thigh reaches 175 F. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Citrus-pepper: Blend 4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter with 2 teaspoons black pepper, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and the zest of 2 oranges and 2 lemons. Rub the mixture under and over the skin of the chicken and inside the cavity.
Simple soy: Drizzle and brush 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce all over the inside and outside of the chicken, making sure to thoroughly coat all parts.
Maple-ancho: Brush the inside and outside of the chicken with maple syrup. Stir together 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder. Sprinkle all over the inside and outside.
Aromatic: Underneath the chicken, place a sliced small onion along with 2 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage. Brush the skin of the chicken with melted butter, then season with kosher salt and black pepper.
Curry: Rub 3 tablespoons red curry paste under and over the skin of the chicken, as well as on the inside. Set the chicken over sliced onions and brush the outside with melted butter.
Barbecue: Mix together 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Brush the chicken all over with melted butter, then season with the rub under and over the skin and on the inside.
Coriander-orange: Blend 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, the zest of 2 oranges and 4 tablespoons softened butter. Rub under and over the skin of the chicken and on the inside.
Coconut-lime: Open a 15-ounce can of coconut milk taking care to not shake it. Spoon off the thick cream from the top of the can and mix that with the zest of 2 limes, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Rub under and over the skin of the chicken and on the inside. While the chicken roasts, stir together 2 tablespoons lime juice with 1/2 cup of the coconut milk in the can; season with salt and a pinch of cayenne. Serve with the roasted chicken.
Coffee: Stir together 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1 tablespoon finely ground coffee, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Brush the chicken with melted butter then rub with the seasoning mixture under and over the skin and on the inside.
Parmesan: Stir together 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Brush the chicken with melted butter, then thoroughly coat with it the cheese mixture.