|How to Spatchcock a Chicken
Last week, I restocked the fridge after returning home from a trade
show in Orlando (where we ate twice at a terrific local in-a-mall restaurant
called Ciao Italian Restaurant and at Fishbones, a chain but very good
fish and steak place with a well-trained wait staff). For the second
night home, I selected a medium-sized roaster chicken and decided to spatchcock
it since the poultry shears had not been used for a very long time.
Spatchcock is a culinary term of dubious origin that refers to a method
of preparing a bird for grilling. Remove the backbone with
two cuts of a poultry shears. Flip the bird over and then spread
and push the two breast halves out flat and align the legs. Davidson
says that the term dates back to the 18th century. Kamman
describes the process as "frogging." I heard about it from an Aussie, who
said all Australian butchers know the cut since it is a popular method
there for grilling chicken on “the barbe.”
The advantages are that the bird is spread out flat and evenly thick
on the grill, thus promoting even-doneness. When served, the legs
and second joints can be removed easily and the breast meat can be sliced
off nicely using a long thin blade. I marinated the chicken using about
3 tablespoons of Jamaican-Style Jerk Seasoning, a like amount of olive
oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, the juice of half an orange and salt
and pepper. (For the seasoning, see Infused
Oils and Spice Combinations .
Here comes the weird part: After writing the above, I found an
article on the same subject in the last issue of Gourmet, which
I page through now and then at the library. Its author missed the
Australian connection, but explained what spatchcock was all about, referred
to Davidson, and marinated the bird in a jerk-style seasoning! I
couldn't believe it!
Well, with all the plagiarism scandals these days, full notification
of the coincidence is herein provided. “Press on regardless
and don't spike this article,” say I.