Spatchcock chicken is simply butterflied chicken. It’s easy to do and can make an ordinary roast chicken look really special. The orange, cardamom, and ginger give the chicken a bright, warm flavor your family will love. If you roast it in the oven can have dinner on the table in under an hour.
Butterflying a chicken may seem a little intimidating but it’s really easy! Just put the chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. Using scissors or a sharp knife cut the backbone out. Just follow the bone one side at a time; cut through the ribs, staying as close to the backbone as possible. Then cut the ligament holding the breastbone. Here’s an easy to follow video <a href=”https://youtube.com/watch?v=Ppa1bxB89vg /”>on how to spatchcock a chicken</a>
My arthritis was flaring so I had to have my son do the cutting. He wore gloves because he was running late getting home & didn’t want to touch the raw chicken then have to scrub his hands.
He started at the tail end and cut all the way to the neck. You can also start cutting at the neck end.
Once the backbone was removed he cut through the breastbone so the bird would lay flat.
I tucked the wings under and there is our spatchcocked chicken!
Because of the incredible heatwave we’ve been having I decided to grill the chicken as there was no way I was going to heat the oven to 450° even if only for 30 minutes. Grilling is quite intimidating for me since I have had trouble mastering the grill since I was 19 and first tried grilling chicken. My nephew, Thomas, saved me back then.
Once the bird was butterflied I made a compound butter with orange zest, cardamom, ginger, thyme, a little bit of orange juice, and some salt. I mashed it all together with a fork to combine the ingredients.
I used my fingers to gently separate the skin from the meat. If you’ve never done this it’s quite easy but you do have to be careful. You don’t want to rip the skin. Just slide your finger between the meat and the skin. You’ll feel a very thin membrane that you can easily tear with your finger.
Since I wanted the compound butter over the entire chicken I separated the skin on the breasts, the thighs, and the drumsticks. Then I slid little globs of the butter beneath the skin on those parts of the chicken. Once the butter was inserted I patted it out a bit with my hand on top of the skin. Naturally when the butter begins to melt it will flow over the meat but I wanted to be sure it would flow over as much of the meat as possible.
I brushed the skin with a little olive oil and it was ready for the grill. Here’s where I had a bit of trouble. Thomas will argue that I simply can’t grill chicken and shouldn’t try. Ever. He may be right.
The grill, I believe, was still a bit too hot and the coals piled up too high when I put the chicken, skin side down, on the grate. I wanted a nice, crisp skin but I probably should have waited.
I put the chicken, skin side down, on the grill to get a really crisp skin.
Another thing I believe I did wrong was using tongs to flip the bird. I tore the lovely skin on the breast. In the interest of full disclosure, I should have found another way to turn the chicken over.
You can see how I mangled the skin with the tongs. A fork wouldn’t have worked since the chicken was so tender is was nearly falling apart. But, oh my, was it juicy!
In spite of the problems I had the chicken turned out very juicy and delicious! Although the next time I make it I’ll either have my son do the grilling or wait until winter and cook the chicken in the oven. At least if I roast it in the oven I can serve it to Thomas!
Orange Cardamom Spatchcock Chicken
- 4 – 5 lb. chicken
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 3 sprigs, leaves stripped)
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 orange, zested
- 1 teaspoon orange juice
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (depending on how hot you like it)
- Salt to taste
- Olive oil for brushing the chicken skin
Directions for grilling:
- Spatchcock the chicken and set aside.
- Combine butter, thyme, cardamom, orange zest, orange juice, and salt to make a compound butter.
- Gently separate skin from meat with finger.
- Slide compound butter under skin of drumsticks, thighs, and breasts.
- Pat the butter so it spreads evenly using your hand on the top of the skin.
- Place, skin side down, on a hot grill and cook for about 10 minutes, until the skin is browned and crispy.
- Turn the chicken and continue cooking until it has reached an internal temperature of 165*F
Directions for oven roasting:
- Preheat oven to 450*F
- Follow steps 1 – 5 above
- Place chicken, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.
- Roast about 35 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165*F