Monday, April 27, 2009

Spatchcock Chicken

Everyone talks about "beer butt chicken" or "drunken chicken" like it is the ultimate in grilled/roasted chicken. Part of the hype is just the entertainment value. Ha ha we stuck a can up a chicken's butt, ya get it? The other spiel is that the moisture contents in the can guarantee a juicy bird.But in my opinion, in order to get the best grilled chicken ever, you don't need a fancy rotisserie grill and you don't need to put Milwaukee's Best up Rhode Island's finest. The one thing I don't like about beer butt chicken is.....well here let me show you with this scientific graphic developed at a leading think tank.Okay, I might have made this one myself....

Most grills, smokers, and cookers have a temperature difference between the dome/cover temp and the actual temperature at the grate where the food actually cooks, because duh, heat rises. The difference with the Big Green Egg is about 25 degrees between dome and grate temp. So with beer butt chicken, the chicken isn't cooking at even temps from top to bottom.

So how do you ensure a juicy, evenly cooked bird? Three steps.


Brine the chicken for 6-8 hours. I use a simple brine of
1 gallon water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon black pepper

Rinse and dry the bird.

Spatchcock the chicken. This means butterflying it by cutting out the backbone and flattening it out. That way it cooks at an even temp from top to bottom. I was going to do a video but this one does it perfectly.


Season the bird with your favorite poultry rub and cook it on indirect heat (this night I put a deep dish pizza pan between the fire and the chick chick) at 350f degrees until the internal temp of the chicken registers 165f in the breast or 180f in the thigh. Even if you do this in an oven, it's better than sticking a whole chicken in a roasting pan.You'll have a succulent, evenly roasted chicken that will ROCK.To serve, I quarter mine by splitting down the breastbone in half and then cutting the halves at an angle under the thigh.

I have to say that my smoked chicken is even better but that takes 3-4 times as long so in the middle of the week? This works for me!

Sometimes I make an extra chicken just to make sure we have leftovers for things like fettuccine alfredo with roasted chicken:) (yeah, we went way too heavy on the sauce tonight, my bad)
So give a spatchcocked chicken a try for the perfect roasted chicken! And on that I'll leave on a quote that I once read on a food forum:

"I told my father-in-law that I spatchcocked a chicken and he said, 'Oh yeah? I just bitch slapped a sirloin'."

For printable version, click here:
Spatch-cock Chicken


  1. I want to point out that I read this blog because I am your friend and I support you. BUT I really read it because your cartoons crack me up ... then I see videos like that man up there cutting down the back of a chicken and I think how wrong it is. Sigh, If I didn't love the taste of chicken so much he would have ruined it for me with all that cutting along the back... OUCH!

  2. I'm pretty sure the nuns in Catholic school told me to never spatchcock anything. ~Mary

  3. Love the quote! I'll let you know what my husband says when I tell him we're going to spatchcock a chicken this weekend - LOL!!!!

  4. Chris I agree with you is the short answer I give, however I have a couple of rib racks, that if turned over become roast cradles. Last 4th of July, I was making racks of ribs, and had room for a whole roast chicken- too big for that stupid beer can trick! Brined in a flavor marinade first, without any other prep,it was the hit of the meal.. I'm going to smoke a whole leg of lamb soon, but have to find the hooks I never thought I'd use...

  5. How ironic... I just happen to be bitch-slapping a sirloin this very evening! And I'll be topping it with some gorgeous caramelized shrooms.

    Thanks for the info/video... I never did learn how to adequately cut up a chicken, and while I understand this chicken was only partially cut, you have no idea how much this knowledge has empowered me to branch out into the world of BBQ'ing a whole chicken.

    You rock Chris!

  6. oooh that looks great! I just realized I'm hungry... toodles!

  7. Great post btw! Is it me or is the pic of the uncooked bird and cooked one, laying in a spatchcock sort of wait? Buff and I have talked back and forth on posts about how brining is an important thing in cooking!

    If a student does not fall asleep then you are not being a good, the building was hot, no air on in our rather warmish weather

  8. I've never done this before but I am eager to try it. The bird looks perfectly cooked.

  9. The Chris I know would never pass up the opportunity to stick any foreign object up any rectum. Who had kidnapped Chris and taken over his blog. This has all the hallmarks of a Brandi conspiracy.......

  10. Great post. I've spatchcocked my share of chickens (man, that sounds so wrong), but never tried to brine them first. Gotta give that a go.

  11. We do beer can chicken occasionally ... I like it.

    I've never thought of spatchcocking (is it a verb?!) a chicken. I'll have to try it.

    BTW, I'm here via the Wing King.

  12. doing this tonight on a simple chicken before doing a capon for thanksgiving - evidently the history of this technique is that it was first invented for capons? your brining takes longer than I had anticipated so this will have been a two hour brining instead of overnight planned for the capon.


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