I am notorious for waiting until the very last second to start dinner. That’s one reason why I started making slow cooker chicken in the first place – I knew the chicken would be ready in time for dinner!
When we want to eat a whole chicken – and not just eat shredded chicken – I usually have to plan to start cooking it about 3 hours before we would sit down for dinner.
But when I make spatchcock chicken, I can get dinner done in under an hour!
Surprise surprise, I fell in love with spatchcock chicken because I was running late starting dinner.
I had really good intentions that day and even made sure to pull the chicken out to thaw. But I got side-tracked as the day went on and didn’t see the time until there was only 90 minutes until dinner.
Disappointment. Frustration. And panic.
I was so tired of feeling this way. Tired of thinking everything would turn out okay if I was late to start dinner. That somehow, the result would be different this time – that we wouldn’t be eating dinner late AGAIN.
It’s kind of like putting a jar in the dishwasher and hoping the label will come off… despite the fact that you’ve already washed it in the dishwasher 3 times and the label is still there… I did find a solution to that, by the way. You can remove the label from a jar with just one ingredient.
One chicken and 90 minutes on the clock. I was determined to make it work.
I knew that a whole chicken in the oven takes at least 90 minutes, but usually closer to 2 hours by the time it’s all said and done. (My own favorite method for cooking a whole chicken makes an incredibly delicious bird, but it takes almost 2 ½ hours.)
Chicken legs, on the other hand, can be done in about 45.
What’s the difference? Cooking surface. There is more cooking surface on the chicken legs than the whole chicken.
Check it out – when I cook chicken legs, I line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and a cooling rack and I put the chicken legs on top. The top of the chicken legs are exposed to the heat, and there’s a small bit of air flow underneath the chicken.
When I cook a whole chicken, only three-quarters of the bird is exposed to the heat at any given time. The other quarter of the chicken – the part that is touching the cookie sheet or pan – is exposed to air flow, but it doesn’t cook nearly as fast.
Plus, the inside of the bird is essentially hidden and insulated from the heat. All together it makes for a significantly longer cook time.
The solution? Create more cooking surface.
How to Spatchcock Chicken
Start off by rinsing the bird and patting it dry. Place the bird spine up (breast down) on a cutting board and using a very sharp and strong pair of kitchen shears (I have these) cut the spine out. Set the spine and any innards aside for homemade chicken stock.
Using the kitchen shears, make a small cut at the tip of the breast bone where the two breasts meet. Anywhere from ¼” to ½” should work.
Flip the bird over so the breasts are facing up. Press down on the bird so that it lays flat. This shouldn’t be too hard, but you can make a longer cut into the breastbone if the bird isn’t cooperating.
One whole chicken lasts for 3 meals in my home, so I like to use basic spices that can be used in a variety of dishes. This gives me a bit more flexibility with how I can use the chicken.
If I seasoned the whole chicken using strong Mexican spices, my Greek meal later on in the week will have some of those flavors too. Which I tried one time, and I wasn’t a fan.
My go-to seasonings are large grain kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, coriander and cumin.
- Large granules of salt and pepper: These really make the flavor of chicken pop. Be generous with both.
- Coriander: AKA cilantro seed, but I don’t think they taste anything alike. Coriander makes the chicken taste like you stuffed it with orange and lemon slices – it’s so good!
- Cumin: This is one of the main ingredients in homemade taco seasoning, but trust me, your chicken won’t taste anything like a taco. When it’s combined with coriander, cumin takes on a smoky and spicy combo. So. Very. Good.
Add it all up and in less than an hour, you get a perfectly cooked, juicy bird with crispy skin.
Thanks to spatchcock chicken, dinner will never be late again!
Ok, so maybe never. But it will happen a lot less often!
- 1 whole chicken, rinsed, patted dry and innards removed
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp coriander
- ½ tsp cumin
- Place the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board. Using a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, cut out the spine. Make a ½” cut on the edge of the breastbone.
- Flip the chicken over so it is breast-side up and press down to flatten the chicken.
- Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and a cooling rack. Place the chicken on top of the cooling rack and season with salt, pepper, coriander and cumin.
- Bake chicken at 425F for 45-55 minutes, or when the inner thigh close to the bone reads 165F on a meat thermometer. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving.