Spatchcocked Dijon and Anise Roast Chicken

Chicken is a protein that most people seem pretty comfortable with, and given that, its dressed up and enjoyed in countless ways. Given all of the variety, some times, returning to the basics almost seems like something new and indulgent. Kind of like having that perfectly roasted chicken. Well even then–that one simple, back to basics kind of dish–there’s a twist to try. And not only is it fun to do, but its also fun to say (if you’re as mature as I am): spatchcocking.

Spatchcocked Dijon and Anise Roast Chicken

Some of you might be wondering, what on earth does spatchcocking mean? Its a simple technique that basically amounts to flattening a whole bird. Essentially, you remove the major structural bones (backbone, breast plate), and with care, you can then, still keeping the bird entirely in one piece, press it out flat and cook it that way however you see fit (e.g. on a spit, roasted, on the grill, etc).

Since my time seems to be more and more limited these days, I kept it simple and applied a simple herby dijon rub to the spatchcocked chicken before roasting it in the oven with plenty of rosemary. Its just simple comfort food (and everybody loves a good roasted chicken).

By cooking chicken in this manner, you get all the advantages of whole-bird cooking (which I think always has a flavor above and beyond what is achievable when you cook individual parts), and, due to spatchcocking, you dramatically cut the cooking time down compared to roasting a whole chicken (roughly half!) since you’ve opened it up and removed some bone. If this kind of butchery/knife-work intimidates you, I promise, it is so much easier than it sounds and you really should try it. You can have the bird ready to go in under 5 minutes.

  • ~4 lb chicken
  • Rub
    • ~2 Tbsp soft/semi-melted butter
    • ~1 Tbsp dijon
    • salt
    • pepper
    • 1/2 tsp anise seeds
    • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 tsp ground thyme
    • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • few sprigs fresh rosemary

Cut out the backbone

With a pair of sturdy kitchen shears, cut along the side of the backbone. Cut right through the ribs (they’ll snap easily) and go all the way from head to tail. Repeat this on the other side of the back bone. Then, you should have no trouble just removing it. Pick out what’s left of the ribs with your hands/shears. Throw all these spare parts into your sack-o’-chicken-parts for stock making.

Remove the breast plate and press flat

Now, flip the spineless chicken over and press it somewhat firmly on the breast to flatten it out a bit and make removing the breast plate easier. Flip it back over again so the inner-cavity area is facing you. With a paring knife (or your kitchen shears), cut around the perimeter of the breast plate as close to the bone as you can. Once you’ve cut away at that enough, you should be able to pull that bone right out. While you’re at it, if you can, go for the wishbone as well (if not, don’t worry about it). Finally, now you should have no difficulty flattening the chicken.

Rub, set on a roasting pan, dress with herbs, and roast

Now, with the chicken cut properly, stir everything together in a small bowl for the rub. Poke your fingers underneath the skin of the chicken along the edges in a few discrete places. Work some of the rub in, underneath the skin as well as all over the outside of the bird. Put the chicken skin side up in your roasting pan with sprigs of rosemary all over (on top, underneath, wedges between joints, whatever).

Transfer this to a 400°F oven for 10 minutes (to crisp up the skin a bit), and then drop the heat to 350°F for roughly 25 minutes more (keep an eye on the internal temperature of the chicken with a meat thermometer). If you feel like basting, go for it. I didn’t bother and the end result was just as juicy, so I really don’t think you need to trouble yourself with it.

Spatchcocked Dijon and Anise Roast Chicken

Finally, with the chicken done, cut it up into whatever parts you want to eat and go at it. I served with a side of potatoes, fennel, carrots, and bacon. Enjoy!

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20 Responses to “Spatchcocked Dijon and Anise Roast Chicken”

  1. nina Says:

    Thanks for the tutorial….I said so when you made the ice-cream, but anise is one of my favorite spices.

  2. Sam Says:

    I use this same technique when I’m preparing chicken for the barbecue, the rub sounds delicious, I love anise.

  3. ruhama Says:

    Mmm… this sounds great! I’ve cooked a chicken like this once and it was *really* tasty.

  4. anticiplate Says:

    I learned what spatchcock means today. Thank you:)

  5. Hélène Says:

    I never heard that world before. Your chicken looks so good and full of flavors.

  6. Heather Says:

    yum! that roast chicken sounds so delicious! i love the smell of roast chicken when it’s cooking! mmmmm.

  7. pam Says:

    I’ve always wanted to try this.

  8. Toni Says:

    Mike, I would try this even if the recipe didn’t look all that great (which it does!) – just so I could say I spatchcocked a chicken! Do I love that word, or what?

  9. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) Says:

    Spatchcocking is all the rage now. Great to grill this way.

  10. Sophie Says:

    Mike, thnaks for explaining the spatchcocked chicken!! I love all the yummiz flavours combined!!! MMMMMMMMM….

  11. grace Says:

    thanks for the ultra-informative post, mike, and for the excuse to say “spatchcocking.” :)

  12. Ben Says:

    Of course for us mature people saying spatchcocked is a lot of fun. I tried to cut a chicken like that once and it was a disaster. I’ll try again following your instructions, or I’ll just let the butcher do it for me. LOL.

  13. Susan from Food Blogga Says:

    Thanks, Mike. Reading this post is like deja vu. Just check out Elaine’s latest post over at The Italian Dish, and you’ll see what I mean. 😉

  14. Dana Zia Says:

    Hey Mike! Had to pop over and see what you are cooking up! Okay, spatchcocking. That is a new one for me. It sound like a spatula with attitude! I love love love roasted chicken. I am going to try this. Thank you once again for a great idea.
    Dana Zia

  15. RecipeGirl Says:

    The title drew me in, of course!! I’ve been seeing this spatchcocking thing going on around the blogs and simply must try it. Looks like you did a good job w/ it!

  16. Sandie Says:

    Another recipe showcasing anise! lol… I feel like I should be yelling, “Uncle! Uncle!” 😉

    But since you used anise with chicken (sort of like your ice cream post), I’m going to have to give my non-use of anise a second thought. You are slowly but surely convincing me…

  17. Ivy Says:

    I never heard of spatchcocking before and can’t even pronounce it but it sure is up my alley with all those lovely ingredients.

  18. Peter Says:

    Mike, this herb combo is unusual but by no means not enticing…love me spatchcocked chicken too!

  19. we are never full Says:

    hey, mike! love the “rub” on this. spatchcocking is our #2 favorite way to eat chicken (next to roasting). the meat ends up being so incredibly moist.

    if any of your readers want a “spatchcock photo tutorial” they can check out an old post of ours where jonny so bravely “handposed” for the pictorial:

  20. Alfonso Criscillis Says:

    Thank you very much for your interesting text. I have been looking for such content for a very long time. Not everything is completely clear to me, but it is definitely interesting and worth reading.

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