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Spatchcocked Chicken on your Grill
August 28, 2013

Spatchcocked Chicken Without Michelin Stars

Spatchcocked chicken is not something that I make very often. There’s no real reason behind that it’s just something that I tend to forget about which is a pity as it’s a method of cooking chicken that’s ideally suited to grilling on the barbecue. The reason that I’m mentioning it here is because I recently watched a TV program about grilling and barbecuing which included spatchcock chicken. This was part of a series of programs by a very well-known chef who possesses two Michelin stars. Now I like this chef, I watch his programs and buy his recipe books and I’m absolutely positive that if I followed the recipe that he gave on the show it would be very tasty. However, I have one problem with the method of cooking. He pre-cooked the chicken before finishing it off on the BBQ. As I said, I’m sure it would have tasted very good, but I cannot understand the necessity for the pre-cooking. This is similar to boiling ribs, which I mentioned in my last newsletter, prior to a finish grilling them on a barbecue. The recipe itself looked good and included making a marinade and marinating the chicken overnight. The chicken was then cooked in a conventional oven for about an hour before placing it on the barbecue grill for about five minutes on each side. I ask you, why would you set-up your BBQ for 10 minutes of cooking, and this was made on a charcoal barbecue so it wasn’t the case of simply turning the gas on? That’s my moaning session over, I’d be interested to hear your opinion either for or against pre-cooking a chicken before putting it on a barbecue grill. Send me an email and let me know what you think.

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Why Spatchcock a Chicken?

When you spatchcock a chicken you partially bone it and opens it up. That means that you have a flatter, effectively thinner, piece of meat with more surface area exposed to the heat. This is ideal for cooking a whole chicken on a barbecue without the need for using a hood.

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

It’s not that difficult to spatchcock a chicken, just a bit of cutting and brute strength. Get you chicken and remove any giblets, body fat and neck skin, wash it with cold water and pat it dry. Next place the bird breast side down and using poultry shears or sturdy scissors cut from tail to neck along one side of the backbone. Then cut down the other side of the backbone to remove it completely.

Trim the wings by cutting the tips off. That’s the end of the cutting, now to the brute strength. Grab the chicken on each side were the backbone was and spread it open like a book and firmly press down on each side. Turn the bird over and press firmly down on the breastbone until the chicken is flat and fully opened up.

Preparing the Chicken

As with many BBQ recipes you have a number of options here depending on if you’ve time to marinate or it’s a spur of the moment decision to cook some chicken and just want to get it done and eat it.

For minimum fuss just rub in some of your favorite BBQ rub on both sides of the bird, get you grill going, cook the chicken, and enjoy.

With a little more time try pushing some flavoured butter under the breast skin which will help keep the chicken breast moist will cooking. Don’t forget that the legs will take longer to cook than the breast which can result in some drying out. You can still apply your BBQ rub as well.

Got lots more time? Try marinating your chicken for at least 2 hours or overnight, in a refrigerator.

Cooking the Chicken

I find that it’s easier to cook the spatchcocked chicken using a mixture of direct and indirect grilling. Set your grill up for indirect grilling by only filling half of your BBQ grate with charcoal. If you’re using gas then leave at least one of your burners switched off.

Place your chicken skin side down directly over the heat and grill until the skin is golden brown. If there is a flare-up move the bird over to the side of the grill away from the direct heat until the flames die down.

After the skin side is done turn the chicken over and grill it over direct heat, moving it from direct grilling again if fare-ups occur. In practice you might find it better to turn the chicken over three or four times, it should take in the region of an hour to cook. Make sure that the bird is cooked through thoroughly before serving.

That's it for this issue of the Chargrill Chat, I hope that you enjoyed it.

If you have any requests, or a recipe, or tip to share that you think other readers might like, or even if you disagree with anything in this newsletter, please email me at

Best regards,


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