The Best Way to Prep Poultry That You’re Too Afraid to Try

It’s easier than you think, and the payoff is huge.

November 18, 2019

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Be honest. Have you ever seen an article or recipe referencing “spatchcocked chicken” or “spatchcocked turkey” or “how to spatchcock,” and immediately scrolled past it because the word is kinda weird and definitely unfamiliar?

Not anymore. The time has come to figure this thing out once and for all.

Recently in a class on the Food Network Kitchen app, Chef Jordan Andino made Spatchcocked Fried Cornish Game Hens inspired by Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge, and he broke down (no pun intended!) the ins and outs of spatchcocking. The biggest thing to know: It’s not scary! It’s actually really easy, and you’ll want to learn how to spatchcock at home because it will seriously change the way you cook. “Spatchcocking is my favorite way of preparing poultry,” he said, and we bet it will be yours too.

Here’s what you should know.

1. What the heck IS it actually?

To spatchcock poultry — a chicken, a turkey, a Cornish game hen, etc. — means you’re removing the backbone, so the bird is flattened out. That’s it.

2. You’ll need the correct tool.

We get it. The thought of this process might be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need is a sharp pair of kitchen shears and a healthy dose of confidence. You’ve got this! Start with the bird breast-side down, Jordan said, and working from the bottom of the spine, cut closely along the backbone. Once you get to the top, remove the scissors and start over from the bottom on the other side of the spine. After the bone is removed, flip the bird over so it’s breast-side up and use the heel of your hand to apply firm pressure to the center of the breastbone. That’ll fully flatten it.

3. Spatchcocking helps ensure an even cook.

Think about it. When you roast a whole bird, some parts of the chicken, for example, are closer or further from the heat source, so they may take more or less time to cook than others. But if you open up the chicken like a book, everything becomes equal and you can guarantee even doneness throughout.

4. It will save you time.

This is closely related to #3. Jordan explained that because the chicken is flattened out, it’s thinner than usual, which means it will take only a fraction of the time to cook.

5. The leftovers have a purpose.

Take it from Jordan — you don’t want to throw out the spine you just removed. “You have a good start to a base of a stock right here,” he said. It will take a few of them to fully flavor the stock, though, so he recommended doing a few at a time and keeping whatever meat you don’t need right away in the freezer for later.

Jordan went on to fry the spatchcocked Cornish game hens, but you can also roast them — or a turkey or a chicken. Keep an eye on them, though, and check the temp because they won’t take nearly as long to cook as when they’re left whole. Watch Jordan’s class on the all-new Food Network Kitchen app to see what the dish turns out like, and get tons of other recipe ideas with live and on-demand classes.

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