Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Flatten that Chicken!

I'm excited. I have found something I really love. It is thrifty and delicious. It is butterflied or spatchcocked chicken.

Basically what you do is buy a whole chicken and flatten it. It isn't difficult at all, but it is a bit messy. Be sure you save everything you remove from the chicken and freeze it for making a good bone stock later on. And I mean everything, giblets, neck, breastbone, backbone. After you eat some chicken, save the bones!

I bought two chickens at Costco, .99 cents a pound. Compare that to $2.99 a pound cut-up fryer from Trader Joe's. What a deal.

Here's a tutorial of how to "spatchcock" a chicken, complete with pictures.

Ok, the price savings is nice but there are other benefits:
  • More surface area: It is great for holding onto any sort of coating, like... ummm... a mustard crust perhaps?
  • Faster cooking time: A whole chicken might take an hour or more to cook. A flattened chicken takes 30-45 minutes, depending on method and temperature.
  • More skin! I adore eating chicken skin but you miss out on a lot of skin if you buy pre-cut up chickens.
I caught a glimpse of Jacques Pepin on PBS recently making this Mustard Crusted Chicken recipe and I just had to try it. I've butterflied a few chickens, thanks to Alton Brown's wonderful show displaying the technique, and when I saw that this was first cooked in a oven-safe skillet (to brown up the back, I suspect) it looked to me like it was winner. I've had such great luck cooking steak in skillet, then oven, that I could imagine cooking a bird this way would be fantastic.

The only differences were that I removed the legs and wings, misunderstanding his instructions which should just have had me cutting through the meat so they cook faster. But it also made the bird fit into my cast iron skillet a little better.

This chicken recipe cooks in a mere 30 minutes in the oven and the smell is intoxicating. The taste? Wow! I'm going to be using this recipe over and over.

I was trying to play a computer game upstairs while this chicken was cooking but the smell totally derailed my concentration. I had to stop playing and come downstairs to be closer to my meal.


ravengal said...

I've used this method to pan-fry whole fryers. Never knew it had a name. Can't wait to tell DH.

water said...

This looks seriously yummy. I am not a huge chicken fan, but I've been meaning to try to get out of a steak salad rut.