How to Spatchcock Chicken

Spatchcock Chicken on the grill

What is Spatchcock Chicken? Try it, don’t be spineless.

In the culinary world, there is a plethora of methodologies to prepare and cook any meal. Baking, roasting, boiling, smoking, and plenty more. Some methods are more popular than others for a variety of reasons. Some may be quick and easy while others may be lengthy and laborious. At Lane’s, we care about the methods that produce quality meals and aren’t so complex that you need a Ph.D. to accomplish them. Spatchcocking might be one of those methods that seem complex, but once you have learned the skill of spatchcocking it is a total game changer for cooking meals. Not only is it easier than you think, but done correctly it produces some really juicy meat. Long gone are the days of dry poultry.  Whether you’re trying smoked chicken or smoked turkey we would suggest using the spatchcock method. You might surprise yourself with just how good of a cook you are. 

Why Spatchcock?

Roasting a whole bird can be a lengthy process. If you want tender juicy meat when roasting there are several more steps to take. It’s not a “set it and forget it” process. Some people use injections, some baste, and others are ok with dry ordinary meat. Spatchcocking a chicken can cut your total cook time in half, you can season how you desire, and it’s almost (besides checking temp) the “set it and forget it” process. Faster, juicier, and crispier...just seems like an easy yes, yes, and yes!! Now, here at Lane’s, we are going to opt for smoking, because why not? Low and slow! Enjoy a beverage and make your side dishes while your bird cooks. Who doesn’t like the sound of that? Well, vegetarians, but even they can enjoy the fellowship, a beverage, and the side dishes. Right?   

The Spatchcock Method

Step 1: Remove the Backbone

Simply put, spatchcocking means you are removing the neck, tail, and spine section of the bird by cutting down each side of the backbone. Place the chicken breast side down. Some folks on the interwebs say legs pointing at you, while others say legs pointing away from you. Do you want to start at the neck or tail? Your choice, but find what works for you. Using a sharp pair of kitchen shears cut down the side of the backbone. Don’t be afraid of the sounds. There will be some cracking and popping, all of that is normal. You are cutting through the ribcage...all to be expected.

Step 2: Break the Breast Bone

Then you can cut/pop breast bone applying pressure allowing the bird to lay flat.

Step 3: Position the Bird

Flip the bird over bones down breast up(legs pointing at you) it should lay flat on your cutting board. Sometimes the legs will get out of place, just make sure they are angled towards each other flat. Tuck wings behind the shoulder, they might fight back just keep going - they will stay.

You spatchcocked your chicken!! Now you can season how you fancy and put him/her on the smoker.   

Advanced Tips

Now, if you want to be a little more advanced you can use a knife to spatchcock which will allow you to remove the ribcage if you do not want to cut through it. Take your boning knife (start at an end) and cut along the backbone. When you get to the ribcage use your knife to cut away the breast. Follow the ribs around until you return to the backbone, then finish your cut. You should have the spine with the ribs still attached. If you do not want to remove the ribcage then you can cut through it with your knife just as if you were using shears. (You can use the backbone/backbone and ribcage to make great chicken stock.) 

Seasoning

Once we have our chicken spatchcocked we like to (carefully) create a gap between the skin/meat on the breast and thigh sections. We season and put a pad of butter in those gaps, then we season the skin. We love our Spellbound or Signature rub for these cooks. However, this is where you get to experiment and have fun. If you want a traditional seasoning try our 50/50 Salt/Pepper essential bulk spices. After you’re done seasoning your bird (don't forget to season both sides) put it on the smoker at 275 breast side up and walk away. Around 45min we would suggest checking your internal temp. You can pull it around 155-60 and let it rest for 10-15min. It will continue to cook reaching the 165 internal target temperature during the resting period.

Spatchcock Times and Temps

Chicken Temp Weight Time Spatchcock Internal Temp
Roast 375 3.5 - 4lbs 90min 45min 165
4.5 - 5lbs 60min 60min 165
Smoke 275 3.5 - 4lbs 2hrs 60min 165
  4.5 - 5lbs 3hrs 90min 165

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