Valley Bounty: Chicken

According to most etymologies I’ve been able to find so far, the term “spatchcock” (a method of preparing chicken) dates back to 18th Century Ireland (it started appearing in Irish cookbooks around that time), and is drawn from the phrase “dispatch the cock”, i.e. “deal with the chicken quickly and efficiently”—though my research also turned up the word “spitchcock”, which is at least three centuries older and apparently refers to a method of grilling eel that’s fairly similar to spatchcocking, so perhaps “spatchcock” has some longer history Merriam Webster hasn’t heard about yet.

Whatever the etymology, the procedure for spatchcocking a chicken is about as straightforward as it gets—all you need is a pair of poultry shears. Use the shears to cut along the back of the chicken, first on one side of the spine and then the other so that it can be completely removed. Place the de-spined chicken breast-side up in a baking dish and press down firmly in the center to crack the wishbone, so that the chicken can lie flat. Season the bird with salt, pepper, herbs, and butter or olive oil before it goes in the oven. Spatchcock chicken cooks much faster than whole chicken (around 45 mins at 500°F), and the redistributed mass makes it easier to fully cook the thighs without overcooking the breast.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)