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Aug 3, 2006 02:09 AM

roasting chickens--split method? HELP please

A few days ago I was noodling around and saw a method for roasting chickens--they were split down the back with the backbones removed, and roasted. There were photos.

Now I can't find the method/recipe.

Can anyone help? I'd like to try it. I usually roast my chix whole.

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  1. If the photos showed them laying flat, that is technically known at Spatchcocked chicken. You can do them in the oven or on the grill. I've seen Alton Brown do a show on this, Steve Raichlin also has recipes for this method, along with many others.

    I don't know what type of recipe you're looking for, but it's easiest to prep the chicken with shears. It's easy to cut away the backbones and wing tips with very sharp scissors. Your recipe could either be a liquid marinade or a dry rub, depending on what you are looking for.

    1. The recipe I use calls for using poultry shears to remove the backbone by cutting along either side of it then flipping the chicken over and pressing down on it to break the breastbone. I then pound a paste of EVOO, balsamic vinegar, basil leaves, garlic, salt and pepper, add some minced pancetta and stuff under the skin. Salt and pepper alone would suffice though.
      Oil a roasting pan, put in chopped potatoes (Finn or Russett), that have been tossed in EVOO, salt and pepper, in the pan and lay the splayed chicken (skin side up) on top with plenty of salt and pepper. Roast in an oven at 400 for about an hour or until the internal temp of a thigh is at 175. Baste with juices and some white wine while cooking. If the chicken is done before the potatoes, remove the chicken to sit and allow the potatoes to continue until done.
      Once you remove the potatoes you could sit the pan on a stovetop and heat to reduce the juices adding some wine (and some herbs if you like) to soften the bits along the bottom by scraping them with a spatula. Then pour over the resulting sauce over the chicken when serving.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kevine


        This is it-they were roasted over potatoes. Do I have to use a high heat? I hate the burning fat from spattering chicken.

        I have a pork shoulder starting a slow roast overnight and was going to put the chicken in for about 3 more hours at 225, before I turn the oven down for the night.

        Do you think that'd work? I'm not worried about crispy skin (don't eat it--rather "spend" my fat calories on ice cream), but a good flavor is my concern.

        1. re: toodie jane

          I haven't used a variation on this with a lower heat so can't really answer. Seems like the high heat is what makes it work though. The fact that the chicken is split makes for less volume to heat up so the meat cooks quick enough.
          I've never had a problem with burning fat. Maybe the paste under the skin helps to absorb it, I don't know. As far as the flavor, it's always been nothing less than fantastic especially as a leftover. But then I never spare myself the skin. I think the skin from this recipe makes a very good substitute for ice cream. :-)
          I will point out that I am VERY particular about the chicken I buy. Always fresh free range. Makes a huge difference IMO.

      2. I posted about trying America's Test kitchen's instructions for roasting a chicken by brining, butterflying and roasting. Here's the link:

        You have to register to access the website but it's free. Once you're in, there are good diagrams illustrating the techniques they use. The thread has a fair amount of detail if you have difficulty getting into the site.

        2 Replies
        1. re: cheryl_h

          This is the recipe to use as a guideline. The results are so delicious, and once you learn the technique, you will not need a recipe.

          Brining works very well here, but I would not use it for the top-of-the-line free range birds. These have enough flavor and character as is. And, when pressed for time, a kosher bird, as the recipe suggests, works great with no brining.

          My favorite variation in recent months is the addition of sliced onions to the potatoes and a stuffing of preserved lemon and rosemary.

          1. re: btnfood

            Did you get the potatoes to crisp up as the TV episode showed? Mine didn't, nor did another poster's. I think having a smaller amount might help.

            I was also thinking of adding to the potatoes, parsnips perhaps. Adding lemon zest to the compound butter added a nice zing to the chicken and potatoes, I'm sure preserved lemon would be wonderful. I agree once you understand the principle, the technique should work every time.

        2. Here's a great site that has pictures, instructions and a video on how to butterfly a chicken.

          1 Reply
          1. re: adamclyde

            Yes, the bottom layer of potatoes always comes out crisp and a deep golden brown. Since I often sneak in more potatoes, I will return the paler slices to the oven to further crisp and brown.

            If your oven is not getting hot enough, you might try elimimating the aluminum foil that lines the pan. This is a bit messier when clean-up time comes, but guarantees very crisp, golden potatoes. On the other hand, if you are getting crisp potatoes, Reuynolds Release nonstick foil makes serving this dish a lot easier, as the potatoes do not stick.

            I would not recommend basting or saucing this chicken. It is very juicy and the crisp skin is perfect as is.

          2. I LOVE making chicken this way. The pototoes absorb a lot of the fat that would otherwise splatter-give the high heat method a try at least once. It is really is terrific and I butterflying the chicken is tailored to high heat cooking (it is meant to cook quickly and evenly), so I don't know that slow roasting would be a good method for this. Be sure to brine.

            My potatoes always come out brown on the bottom, too, and sometimes I leave them under the broiler for a minute to crisp the top.