Friday, November 28, 2014
Spatchcocking Lives Up to the Hype
By now, you've likely heard of spatchcocking, maybe in the context of roasting a Thanksgiving turkey, since it can greatly reduce the cooking time. (It's late, but Happy Thanksgiving, by the way.) Well, I didn't need or want to prepare a whole turkey, but I did want to finally give the technique a shot after seeing it pop up every year around Thanksgiving for a while now. So, I went for spatchcocking a chicken, which as Bittman notes, was a thing before he started doing it with turkeys.
It works! Cooking time is faster, and the white meat doesn't dry out before the dark meat is done. On cutting off a slice of the breast meat, I was pleased to find it glisteningly moist. It was also tender and really easy to cut, even with the dull, non-steak knife I was using. Total roasting time ended up being about 40-45 minutes for my 4 pound chicken at 400°F.
Pro tip: put your chicken into the oven legs facing inward so they'll cook at a faster rate than the doorside-facing breast meat. It's hotter toward the back since when you inevitably need to open the oven door to check on things or add things to the pan, it's the front part of the oven immediately exchanging heat and air with the outside. I'd guess the door is itself less insulating than the back of the oven, since there's the glass and the sides, too. I didn't have to rotate my chicken at all, and by the end, the legs were 20°F hotter than the breasts (170°F and 150°F, respectively).
Here's a helpful short video of Bittman spatchcocking a turkey. Same process for chicken.
Here's the recipe I used, which was delicious. Substitute Earth Balance or other butter substitute to make it dairy-free, or alternatively just use more olive oil in place of the butter she calls for. Use the soy-free Earth Balance to avoid soy, or again, just use olive oil.
I salt underneath the skin to season the meat more directly and avoid making just the skin salty. If you salt ahead of time (dry brine), it also helps meat to retain moisture by denaturing the proteins, keeping them from contracting as much during cooking, and thus squeezing out less moisture.