SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN you say!? What does “spatchcock” mean to us home cooks?
"While the indirect grill and rotisserie methods are great for roasting a whole chicken, nothing can beat the flame-charred smokiness of chicken pieces grilled directly over a fire. There is a way to do this and I learned it in one of the world's most unlikely barbecue destinations: Paris. The technique is spatchcocking and it looks as theatrical as it sounds. You cut out the backbone and open the bird flat, like a book. This makes the whole chicken thin enough to grill directly over the fire."—Steven Raichlen, “How To Grill”
Mexico raises the most delicious chickens; I have often speculated as to why they are so tasty. Some say that it is because the chickens are fed yellow corn—others say that it is because they are fed yellow calendula flowers. Whatever the reason, I love to make spatchcock chicken in my Sayulita kitchen!
I want to share with you the method and my favorite seasoning recipe!
1 (approximately 4 pound) chicken
Zest & juice from 2 lemons
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled & minced
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
*I am a big fan of herbs but simply salt and pepper would also be delicious
To spatchcock the chicken (please don’t be weirded out because of the name!) it is a very easy process.
- Using strong kitchen scissors or poultry shears, cut down both sides of the backbone of the chicken. Remove the backbone, turn the chicken over, and press down on the breast of the chicken to flatten it out to one thickness. (This makes it easy to grill evenly. We often see chicken cooked this way on our Sayulita streets.)
- Rub the chicken with the olive oil, and then rub with the pepper, salt, rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and oregano.
- Drizzle the lemon juice over the chicken, and place the chicken in a large ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or a maximum of 6.
- Heat the grill to medium. Place the chicken skin-side up on the barbecue.
- Cover, and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone) reads 150 to 160 degrees F (almost cooked through); this will take about 50 minutes.
- Flip chicken over so that it is now skin side down to char and crisp up the skin side; do this for another 3 or 4 minutes. Check that the temperature in the thigh is now at least 165 degrees F.
- Remove from the grill and let the chicken rest for 20 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute and ensures a much more juicy inside!
I love fish as much as chicken. The Mercado del Mar in La Cruz always has a great selection of fish to choose from. Stay tuned for fish cooked in foil or parchment packets.
*Note—I am not available for catering until November, however, if you have any comments or questions you can reach me at my Sayulita life web page LIVE LOVE & EAT in SAYULITA.
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Written by: Karina Shecter