So, on the big day, I get a whole chicken for $0.98/lb in the States a mind-boggling, ridiculously low price in my world, and on Saturday night, I got out my shears and my June 2009 issue of Canadian Living and spatchcocked away!
The Canadian Living definition of "spatchcocking" is this: "spatchcock, v., to split and flatten small poultry by removing the backbone and pressing on the breastbone."
The advantages, according the the article, are:
- Opening the bird decreases cooking time, which keeps the meat moist.
- Because of even exposure to heat, the thighs, legs, and breast cook more evenly than when cooking a whole bird
It also adds, "When grilling a spatchcocked bird, grill over indirect heat to prevent skin from burning."
Well, there was snow on them thar hills on Saturday, so I wasn't grilling anything outside.
Here are the instructions provided in the article:
- Using sharp scissors, cut bird down each side of backbone and remove bone
- Turn breast side up; press firmly on breastbone to flatten
- Tuck wings behind back. If desired, insert criss-crossed metal or wooden skewers to keep bird flat
- Grill or roast as desired
Well, surely this would be easy enough, right? Right? Well, no.
First of all, I'm not an expert on chicken anatomy, or any anatomy, and I had a hard time ascertaining which side of the chicken the backbone was located on. This was made more difficult than usual because the bird was so big and plump - not small and scrawny like the ones I'm used to getting up here at LOGS. It was really hard to tell the breast from the back - it was that meaty. I am not kidding. Eventually I figured it out - the neck gave it away. The neck, I know from looking at my own body, is attached to the back, not the front. Right? Right.
So, onto the spatchcocking. Now that I'd found the backbone, I had to cut it out. With my shears. It seemed simple enough - until I began cutting. The monstrous crunching of bone that resounded through my kitchen and the crunching I felt in my hand via the shears nearly killed me. I had to stop and settle myself down, I was so upset by the sound of the crunching in my ears. This was the most revolting thing I think I have ever done in the kitchen. I couldn't leave the chicken half spatchcocked, though; I had to persevere. Despite the fact that my stomach was turning and I felt like throwing up, I continued to cut away, through bone, making that horrible sound.
To me, there is nothing more disturbing than hearing bones break and snap - human, animal, dead animal - it's just gross and sickening.
And of course it didn't end there! No! I had to flip the chicken over and press down on the breastbone - breaking more bones and making more crunching noises as more bones snapped under my bare hands. It was pure torture.
I needed to rest after this - and I made up my mind as I rested that I would never spatchcock another chicken. What's the point? It almost put me off the chicken altogether and that's just counterproductive. A roasted chicken with body still relatively intact is just fine and dandy in my books. Crap on a cracker!
Anyway, I eventually made a paste out of these three ingredients...
...The Old Bay Seasoning I got in the USA, too, since I've never seen it up here. My good friend Pierce of Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor highly recommended OBS after she gave it rave reviews in a post she did after she was given a gift bag from the company itself. This stuff smelled heavenly, and it was fantastic on the chicken. Sorry for the crappy picture - I dug in before remembering to photograph!
I served the chicken with roasted potatoes, green beans, and some patty-pan squash from my garden (more on that in a future post).
Sometimes you have to do things just to learn you should avoid them. That is the moral of my spatchcocking tale.