Spatchcocking is my favorite chicken technique. Instead of roasting the bird whole, it is cut open and laid flat, maxing out the flavor and shortening the cooking time drastically. I prefer to smoke chicken on my Traeger, but this recipe also works on a grill or in the oven. The special trick to this recipe is making a “rack” out of leftover bread-as the chicken cooks, the juices soak into the bread and create a stuffing like product that will make you forget about eating the chicken.
Special Equipment: Roasting pan or cast iron pan large enough to hold chicken
1 whole chicken (3-5lbs.)
Good leftover bread, 4-6 thick slices Saucy Note: French or sourdough loafs are particularly good. Baguette also works, but you’ll need at least double the slices. You can use fresh bread, but it holds up to the chicken juice better if its slightly stale.
Turn smoker on to smoke, preheat grill to high, or preheat oven to 450°F.
Spatchcock chicken. To do so, rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Place breast side down on a cutting board. Using heavy, sharp kitchen shears cut the backbone out of the chicken by cutting perpendicularly through the ribs on each side of the spine. If you’re squeamish, this is a good chance to get over it. Save the spine to make gravy, or freeze for later.
Once the spine is removed, flip the bird over, spreading the legs out so everything faces up. Press down firmly on the breastbone until it cracks and the chicken flattens out slightly. Oil both sides of the chicken, and salt liberally.
Arrange bread in roasting pan. There needs to be just enough to hold the chicken. The exposed bread will burn, which is fine on the edges around the chicken, but wastes any extra pieces you put in the pan.
Place chicken breast-side-up on top of the bread, covering as much of the bread as possible. If using a smoker, smoke chicken on cold setting for 30 minutes, then turn up to high for 65 minutes. If grilling or roasting, place in preferred heating apparatus for 1 hour. A thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh should read 165°F when it’s done.
When chicken is finished, cover the pan with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Carve and serve chicken on warmed plates with a piece of bread, or several if they’re small. The bread will be darkly toasted on the bottom, and very soft on the top-if it’s too soft, you can broil the pale side for a minute or two until golden and slightly crispy. Serve with a crisp, simple green salad.