Whether roasting a chicken on a weeknight or manning the Thanksgiving turkey, achieving evenly cooked meat across a whole bird isn’t easy. Breasts cook faster than thighs and legs in a whole roasted bird, and therefore run the risk of drying out. That’s where spatchcocking comes in.

Spatchcocking—also called butterflying—involves removing the backbone of a chicken in order to flatten it, allowing it to cook more quickly and more evenly. Putting the breasts and thighs on an even plane allows them to cook at the same time. It also exposes all of the skin to heat, resulting in more crispy skin all around.

It’s a technique that will cut roasting time for a whole bird in the oven down to 30 minutes, and one that’s also great for the grill, as in our our Piri Piri Chicken—bright, tangy barbecued chicken from South Africa. (And since you don’t need to worry about dried-out breasts or undercooked legs, you can instead focus on all the flavor you’ll get from the bold spice rub that goes under the skin and the sauce brushed onto the chicken before, during and after cooking.)

See here for a step-by-step guide to spatchcocking.

For an oven-roasted, flattened bird, try our Crispy Chicken Under a Brick (Tsitsila Tabaka), a recipe found in our latest cookbook, Milk Street: The New Rules. Spatchcocking chicken for evenly cooked meat and crispy skin isn’t the only decree we cook by here at Milk Street.

Pick up the book for more practical cooking tips like this one and dry breast meat won’t be the only common kitchen stressor you’ll wave goodbye to.

Bright. Bold. Saucy.
Piri Piri Chicken

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2 1/2 hours

30 minutes active

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