Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cooking at Home: Spatchcock Chicken

After the fiasco of the juicy lucy burgers, I wanted to make something worthwhile on the grill. Being Sunday, it seemed like the perfect time for a chicken. Unfortunately, the only grilled chicken recipe I could think of was for beer can chicken. I didn’t have any canned beer in the fridge and I was in no mood to go buy cheap beer. Just then I remembered an old episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown spotchcocked a Cornish game hen. Even though he roasted the hen in the oven, I figured it could be translated for the grill.

Not wanting to have a dry bird, I started with the most important ingredient, butter.

That’s 4 or 5 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of Paul Prudhomme’s chicken magic. I know I should have made my own spice mix, but can’t a man be lazy on Sunday?

I soon had everything mixed together and looking fantastic.

Moving to the star of the show, the chicken

This is just your standard 3 lb bird from Fresh Market. I should have used a poulet rouge, but I didn’t have the patience to wait on the defrost.

With my kitchen shears in hand, I went to work

Here is a perfectly good backbone, which I immediately put in the freezer for later use.

A spineless chicken is an odd site.

Next I turned the bird around and went to work on the wishbone.

I did my best to scrape the meat off, but this was more difficult than it looks.

I eventually tore the wishbone out in two pieces and moved onto the sternum.

Flipping the bird on its back and opening it like a book, you can see the sternum

Cutting through the membrane and with a little brute force, I was able to cut out the sternum and lay the bird completely flat.

Now that all the necessary bones are removed, it was time for spice and butter.

Going on what I had learned from my mother, you can’t go wrong smothering a bird in herb butter.

I made sure to get butter under the skin on the breast and the thighs. For the thighs, I had to cut a little hole in the skin to make sure they had plenty of butter.

Flipping again, I gave the inside of the bird a good dusting of chicken magic.

And then did the same thing on the outside.

With my bird buttered and herbed, I ready for the grill.

I had my big green egg hot and ready to cook.

My bird went onto the grill, breast side down.

To insure even cooking, I wrapped a brick in aluminum foil and dropped it on the back of the bird.

After 50 or so minutes of cooking, I went outside with my thermometer to have a look at my bird.

It was looking pretty good so far.

A few quick pokes with my thermometer proved that this bird was ready.

Right off the grill, everything looked pretty good, but I took it inside, covered in foil and let it rest for a few minutes.

Five minutes later, it was time to unveil my hard work

Calling this hard work might be a bit of a stretch. With a few strokes of a knife, I had cut nearly 30 minutes off the normal roasting time for a chicken.

The first taste revealed deliciously moist meat with the great background flavor of hardwood charcoal. I was extremely pleased with this little project, in fact the only thing I would change is the spice rub. While there’s nothing wrong with Prudhomme’s chicken magic, this style of cooking needs a rub with a little more chutzpah to stand up to the flavors of hardwood charcoal. It’s back to the drawing board with this recipe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some suggestions (from Brando
n MS).buy dry mix McCormick spicy herb grill mix. then doctor becuz it is too salty; add 2 pinch sugar, 2 pinch Old Bay, 2 pinch Hungrn.paprikca, 2 pinch red pepper 1 pinch black pepper. Instead of 1/3 cup water for McCormick, make it 2/3. then marinate 2-3 hours