I recently learned how to spatchcock a chicken and it wasn’t very tough. You simply cut along the sides of the backbone, then pry it out and clean the insides. Then you proceed to hack at the Y bone in front of you and then use the force of your palm to flatten your chook until it resembles an open book. Done. Melissa Clark showed me how to do it and it’s so simple, just watch her video here.
Once you’ve got a spatchcocked bird, what I like to do is treat it like a regular bird, so I’ll dry brine it and leave it overnight, then cook it the next day in some chicken stock and wine a la Dorie Greenspan. Right before my flattened birdie goes into the oven I work generous bits and bobs of salted butter with flattened black garlic paste underneath the skin of the chicken and add fresh garlic and onion to the pan the chicken will cook in. Since the chicken won’t mind another layer of flavour I also add a dry spice rub to the top of my chicken. Then it’s just a matter of 35-40 minutes until dinner is on the table with plenty of pan juices to dunk bits of bread into and enjoy. Everyone in my family loves this, and I’m sure you will too.
The black garlic comes from Mo’s Superfoods, a brand that also has other offerings like kefir and more recently, a caper cream cheese that I’ve been smearing on toast every morning. It’s so addictive.
Spatchcocked Chicken With Black Garlic Butter
Yield 1 1.5-1.75kg bird that serves 4-6
Spatchcocking or butterflying is a great technique to learn because by doing so, the chicken cooks more evenly than as a simple roast where certain cuts will cook faster than others.
Chicken 1, preferably between 1.5 to 1.75kgs
Salt for dry brining
Salted butter 4 tbsp
Black garlic 1 head, skins peeled from the cloves, from Mo’s Superfoods
The Spice Rub
Za’atar Mix powder 1 tsp
Cumin powder 1 tsp
Sumac 1 tsp, or use pomegranate (anardana) powder instead
Coriander powder 1/2 tsp
Onion 1 medium-sized
Garlic 1 head
Chicken stock bouillon cube 1/2
White wine 1/4 cup
Salt and pepper
Mixed herbs like coriander, mint, parsley, thyme, oregano (avoid using herbs like basil or dill here)
You want to start on the chicken first. Begin by rinsing and cleaning your bird, taking out any innards or gizzards that the butcher usually stuffs into the cavity. Next up, to spatchcock, you need a sharp knife and some kitchen scissors.
Turn the chicken so the backbone is facing you and cut down on either side of the backbone to take the backbone out of the bird. Clean any bits of gizzards still attached to the backbone and now look out for the white Y of the breastbone in front of you. Hack at it Witt a sharp knife, then use the force of your palm to press down on this breastbone to flatten out the chicken and open it like a book. It’s cool if the breastbone cracks also. No harm done.
Now turn the chicken skin side up and salt the bird. Flip and salt the other side as well. Be a bit generous here. You want to leave the bird overnight with the salt on to dry brine it.
The next day, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and get a roasting pan or a Dutch oven out that will hold the chicken snugly with its juices and come up the sides high enough.
Next, mash the cloves of black garlic with the softened butter and stuff bits of this black garlic butter under the skin of the chicken. Mix all the ingredients for the spice rub and rub it all over the bird.
Roughly chop the onion and slice the head of garlic in half and add this to the roasting pan or Dutch oven. Activate the chicken bouillon cube in a cup of hot water and add this to the pan with the 1/4 cup of white wine, any fresh herbs you’d like to add, a wee bit of salt and pepper. I went with a bit of thyme and coriander for this one as that’s all I had. Use what you have too.
Place the chicken inside the pan and transfer to the oven to roast for 40-45 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the fleshiest part of the thigh reads 165F, or until the chicken’s juices run clear.
Take the pan out of the oven and bring it to the table with lots of bread for dipping into the garlicky, spiced broth.