Spatchcocking, or butterflying is a technique used for poultry and game where you split the backbone of a bird and flatten it out before cooking, so that all parts of the bird cook at the same time. It makes the bird quicker to cook and lends itself to marinading. Because all of the meat is exposed to the marinade, you get more flavour into the bird, and as all of the chicken is exposed to the heat, you get more crispy skin to share.
You will often see a good butcher selling spatchcocked chickens marinated in herbs and oil, ready for the barbecue or grill, where you need to ensure that all parts of the bird cook at the same time. Or you can ask the butcher to spatchcock a chicken you choose yourself.
You’ll find a good video showing how to spatchcock a chicken at the BBC Good Food website.
Martha Stewart’s website shows how to spatchcock a chicken in pictures.
How to make Garlic, Lemon and Rosemary Spatchcocked Chicken: Season the spatchcocked bird and place it in a roomy plastic re-sealable bag with a few cloves of peeled smashed garlic, a few stalks of fresh crushed rosemary (crushing the herb brings out the oils) and a few slices of lemon. Leave it in the fridge overnight, taking it out briefly every so often to smush it so the flavour of the oil gets into the meat. Roast in an oiled baking tray the next day – it will take 40-50 minutes in an oven at 200C/400F/Gas 6. Always check the chicken is cooked through and that the juices run clear when you pierce the thickest part of the meat. Crisp up the skin under the grill for a few minutes, making sure to keep an eye on it.
How to make a spicy chicken rub to coat the spatchcocked chicken
Whizz 3 de-seeded red chillies with a good pinch of salt, a teaspoon of smoked paprika, a teaspoon of white wine vinegar, the leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh thyme and 2 tablespoons of rapeseed or olive oil. Brush over the chicken on both sides and leave to marinate for at least an hour in the fridge (you can place the chicken in a large plastic bag and give it a little squeeze every time you pass the fridge). Cook as above.