The only way to cook a whole chicken... Spatchcock it! Then smother the spatchcock chicken with a lemon herb compound butter for extra crispy and flavorful chicken skin.
We eat a lot of chicken in this house. Case in point to the dozens of chicken recipes I have on my site (one pot lemon chicken with rice, Coq au Vin, Chicken and pear and Chicken Piccata to name a few).
But our absolute favorite way to cook a whole chicken...spatchcock it! And then save the leftovers and make chicken enchiladas!
What does spatchcock mean?
Spatchcock is another name for butterflied. You basically take out the spine of the chicken so the whole chicken opens up flat. You may need to press on the chicken a bit after you remove the spine so it lays completely flat.
If you're nervous about butterflying the chicken, ask your butcher to do it for you.
Why we love spatchcock chicken so much
Once the chicken is butterflied and flat, all of the skin is exposed. Meaning, when you roast or grill it, there is more surface for the skin to crisp up.
Unlike roasting a chicken where the underside of the chicken may not get as brown and crispy as the top.
The other reason, it cooks in just about half the time! I use the same cooking method during Thanksgiving for my Roast Turkey with Citrus, Herbs and Za'atar and instead of it cooking for over 3 hours, I only roast for an hour and a half.
Let's Chat Compound Butter
If you follow me on Instagram, I am always sharing our weeknight dinners. And one of our favorite condiments and flavor enhancers, is compound butter!
- Unsalted Butter: Softened and I prefer unsalted to control the saltiness.
- Fresh Herbs: Use whatever you have! Basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, chives, chopped very finely.
- Garlic: Fresh is best, chopped finely but a good shake of granulated garlic will still do the trick.
- Olive Oil: Gives a bit more richness.
- Lemons: Zest of the whole lemon and a good squeeze of lemon juice.
- Salt and Pepper, for seasoning.
Once you gather all the ingredients, mix together well. Then slather the compound butter all over the chicken, under the skin and in the crevices.
A Few Cooking Tips for the Best Chicken
Make sure to pay dry chicken before seasoning. This will help whatever seasoning or marinade stick to the meat better. And please, do NOT wash your chicken.
If using skin on, marinate and season all over the skin and under as best as you can.
Once chicken is done cooking, remove from what and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it. I'll place a piece of foil on top to keep it warm while it rests.
Serve chicken with...
Spatchcock Chicken with Lemon Herb Compound Butter
Lemon Herb Compound Butter
- 3-4 pounds whole chicken free-range, if possible
- Olive oil for drizzling pan
- 1 lemon cut in half
Make the Compound Butter
- Make the compound butter first and add the softened butter and olive oil to a bowl and use a fork to start mashing the butter.
- Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix everything together very well. Leave at room temperature so it's easier to rub on the chicken.
Prep Spatchcock Chicken
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly drizzle olive oil to the bottom of a cast iron pan.
- Pat the chicken dry very well (this will help the seasoning and butter stick well), and place chicken breast side down.
- Use a pair of kitchen shears and cut along each side of the back bone/spine.
- Remove the back bone (you can save and freeze later for stock).
- Turn chicken over, so breast side is up and use the heal of your hands to press firmly on the breast bone, flattening the chicken until you hear it crack.
- Once the chicken is butterflied, massage the compound butter all over the chicken, both over and under and under the skin as best as you can.
- Place chicken, breast side up in the oiled cast iron and nestle in cut lemons.
- Roast chicken for about 30 minutes until deep golden brown and cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, internally.
- Let chicken rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.