Spatchcock chicken is one of my favourite ways to have chicken. Add some smoke into the mix and you have a delicious, juicy, flavourful chicken that cooks quicker than a whole bird. Add in my simple orange, cranberry and balsamic glaze and you have the perfect smoked spatchcock chicken for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Sunday dinner!
Why I Love This Recipe!
- spatchcock chicken cooks quicker
- cooking the chicken low n slow makes for a juicier bird
- you can cook multiple birds at a time
- works great for a large turkey too
- maximum flavour
- sunday roast on steriods
Lately, we have been eating a lot of bbq spatchcock chicken in our home. We are trying to get LIttle Miss AnotherFoodBloggers diet to be larger than 5 dinner options and cooking chicken is a great way to go about it. When time isn't on your side but you still want to retain as much flavour through cooking the chicken on the bone then spatchcocking is the way to go! Typically a spatchcocked chicken takes about 45 minutes to cook but for this, I've decided to go a little slower to impart some delicious smokey notes into it. That hint of cherry wood and keeping that temperature a little lower means you are left with one juicy bird!
How To Spatchcock Chicken
Spatchcock - just sounds weird right? Well, the term spatchcock means to flatten a chicken. I believe it dates back to the 17th century to "dispatch a cock". These days we use it when we talk about removing the spine of the chicken so we can flatten it out. Don't get confused with butterflying. This term is used in chicken, fish and other meats. This is similar but the bones are removed completely opening the bird or fish out like a butterfly!
Right, so how do we spatchcock a chicken then? You will need the following
- kitchen sheers
- chopping board
- paper towels
Start by placing a damp paper towel under your chopping board. We do this to stop the board from sliding. Next, pat the chicken dry - this just makes it a little easier to handle, especially if this is your spatchcock virginity 😉
Using your kitchen shears cut down the back of the spine of the chicken. Which side is the spine you say? The opposite side to where the breast is! Once you have cut down one side cleanly then cut down the other side and you will have removed the spine. Next, lay it on the chopping board (breast side down). Where the breast bone starts there is a tiny piece of cartilage that if you slice it gently with a sharp knife you will separate the breast bone and your chicken will lie completely flat. Also known as scoring down the sternum to pop out that breast bone!
Now you are well on your way to cooking smoked spatchcock chicken!
Cooking Spatchcock Chicken
There are 2 ways IMO that you can cook a spatchcocked chicken.
- Over direct heat. For this I get my BBQ up to about 180c and add my favourite rub to the chicken and then cook it or 20 minutes breast site up until you get a nice char, flip the bird and then cook it for about 20 minutes breast side down. At this stage your chicken should have clear juices and be about 74c internal temperature. If it needs a little longer and you don't want to burn the skin then move it to indirect heat for a further 5-10 minutes
- Secondly, and prob my preferred choice is to smoke it! Using my Masterbuilt 560 I set the temperature to 130-150c depending on how much time I have. Once the BBQ is at temperature and the wood has just started smoking I place the chicken in (breast side up) on indirect heat (so it's not touching the heat source) and cook it for 1-1.5 hours size dependant.
- The glaze - this isn't always necessary but I like how it looks on the smoked spatchcock chicken and more importantly how it tastes 😉 With Thanksgiving upon us & Christmas only a matter of weeks away this dish is created with that in mind. The cranberry, orange and balsamic glaze adds a festive taste to the dish but also works great as a sauce too! When glazing your chicken I recommend to baste/brush it every 20-30 minutes to build up a glossy layer to your bird and once again when you serve the chicken. Don't forget to keep some for dipping the chicken into too - it's liquid gold!
Making The Glaze
A glaze is SUPER simple to make. Essentially you take something fruity, some form of liquid, maybe some spice and some sugar. Pop them all into a saucepan and on medium heat let them simmer away and reduce. You are looking for a syrupy sticky consistency. Usually about 1/3 of the liquid you started with.
For my smoked spatchcock chicken, I made a glaze using cranberry, orange, balsamic and rosemary. We added some brown sugar for sweetness, water and finished with a knob of butter for the perfect sheen.
If you don't want to glaze the spatchcocked chicken as it cooks as you are 1 bottle of Thistledown wine deep already then don't stress, you can use it as an epic sauce to finish the chicken with 😉
What To Serve With Spatchcock Chicken
What sides should one serve with smoked spatchcock chicken? Given it's coming up to Thanksgiving and Christmas I would pick classics like mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts & carrots. Here are a few ideas of some on my website and others that I particularly like!
Gouda Mashed Potato w/ Caramelized Onions & Garlic by Jessica Halverstadt of 'Tao of Spice'
Charred Brussel Sprouts w/ Buttermilk Dressing by Yours Truly
Roasted Potatoes & Green Beans by Laura Lawless of 'The Recipe Well'
Marmalade Carrots by Yours Truly
Crispy Smashed Potatoes by Yours Truly
Healthy Broccoli Salad w/ Sweet Lemon Dressing by Julie Kay Andrews of 'The Healthy Epicurean'
Smoked Chicken Wine Pairing
If you know me, have drunk wine with me or have seen my wine collection it's no surprise that Thistledown wines are one of my favourite wineries here in Australia. Maybe it's the Scottish connection, the super friendly people that work there or the fact they just make GREAT wine! Either way, I'm a fan and to date, they take up about 10% of my cellar stock. I won't tell you how many bottles are in the cellar but let's just say it's sizeable!
Their Gorgeous range is their fun, everyday entry-level stuff for want of a better word. I can tell you there is nothing "entry-level" about the quality here. The grapes are chosen from multiple vineyards but handled with the same care and precession as the single vineyard stuff that in case you didn't know just one best Grenache in Australia with their 2019 Sands of Time!
Right - back to their Gorgeous range. Grenache is where their love affair is and in the range, they have a Grenache Rose, Blanc & Red. MY smoked spatchcock chicken recipe is made for and paired with the Gorgeous Grenache Red. A wine that once you open for a quiet glass on a Tuesday will probably leave you with a sore head on Wednesday as it'll be hard to put down 😉
2021 is/was described as a rare vintage where everything just came together nicely. Good yields of great fruit that went into making a Gorgeous wine! At 14.5% it's not shy in alcohol but it's soft, smooth and beautifully fruit-forward. Red fruits, strawberries, cranberries with a touch of vanilla and woody notes. There is a little candied fruit with great length, balance and the right amount of tannins! It's simply Gorgeous and @ $25 a bottle, it's great value too!
Alternative Chicken Recipes
As big a fan of chicken as I am and need more chicken recipes in your life? Then check out these fun recipes below!
Baked Chicken Breast On The Bone by Etienne Karner of 'Between 2 Kitchens'
BBQ Korean Chicken by Yours Truly
Mediterranean Chicken Casserole by Alexandra Cook of 'It's Not Complicated Recipes'
Chicken Satay Sandwich by Yours Truly
Dairy-Free Butter Chicken & Rice by Allison Jones of 'Electric Vitality'
Happy Cooking and Happy Eating Friends!!!!
- 2.5 kg whole chicken
- 400 ml cranberry juice
- 400 ml orange juice
- 100 ml balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 200 ml water
- 1 knob butter
- 1 sprig rosemary
- Chopping board
- kitchen scissors
- pastry brush
- Set your smoker to about 150c adding a lump of your favourite wood to the smoker – cherry is my choice here!
- Using kitchen sheers/scissors cut down the back of the chicken alongside one side of the spine and then down the other side too.
- Flip the bird over so it’s breast side up and flatten it down, opening out the legs/thighs so they are flat with the skin side facing up
- Oil and salt the chicken adding any rub you like – I kept her natural as we are making a delicious glaze
- Smoke the chicken for about 1.5 hours or until internal temperature is 74c – after 20-30 minutes baste the chicken with the glaze and baste every 20-30 minutes and once finished
- Once cooked allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes before serving
- Serve with your favourite sides and homemade glaze/sauce on the side
- Mix all ingredients together (EXCEPT butter) in a saucepan, cook on medium heat for apprx 15 minutes or until the glaze has reduced to about 1/3 the amount and is syrupy
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter
- Store in the fridge until ready to use
- if you don’t have a smoker you can grill the chicken on the BBQ @ 170-180c. Start flesh side down and then flip after 30 minutes and cook skin side down for remaining 30 minutes (it will cook quicker on indirect heat and as it’s at a higher temp) – use the glaze as a sauce
- alternatively, you can roast the chicken whole or roast it spatchcocked in the oven
- ALWAYS rest your meat before serving – this allows the juices to redistribute and will leave you with a much tastier/juicier piece of meat!