Friday, April 8, 2022

Spatchcock Chicken from @MaddieDayAuthor

MADDIE DAY here, writing from north of Boston.

I discovered a recipe for roasted spatchcocked chicken a year or two ago. It was originally from the New York Times, but I have adapted it to my own. Now I won't roast a whole chicken any other way, and I even did our Thanksgiving turkey the same way. The breast comes out moist, the dark meat gets thoroughly cooked, and, oh, the crispy skin is so tasty!

What is spatchcocking, you might fairly ask? The following is from Etymology Online Dictionary, my favorite site to look up the etymology (history) of a word.

spatchcock: in cookery, denoting a method of grilling a game bird after splitting it open along the spine and laying it flat; a word of obscure origin. It originated in Ireland in the late eighteenth century as a noun, referring to the bird thus dispatched, and indeed it may have been based on the verb dispatch, with the addition of cock. Another probable influence is the earlier spitchcock, a word of mysterious origin denoting similar treatment meted out to eels and other fish. [Ayto, "Diner's Dictionary"]

My dear partner Hugh kindly served as model in the the following photos, but it's not only because I can't work with food and take pictures at the same time. It turns out he's better than I at preparing the chicken for roasting, a job I am happy to cede!

Roasted Spatchcock Chicken


1 chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds, patted dry

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (can omit)

2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon chile powder

1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon garlic powder


Spatchcock the chicken by using poultry shears, kitchen scissors, or a sharp knife to cut along one side of the backbone until the chicken opens. If you like you can cut along the other side of the backbone and remove it, or leave it attached to roast with the rest of the bird. 

Open up the bird.

Turn it over and place it so it lies flat, breast side up. Press hard onto the center of the breast until you feel a pop, and the breast lies more or less flat.

I didn't quite get the shot of him pressing down on the breastbone.

In a small bowl, mix together salt, sugar (if you use it), chile powder, paprika, mustard powder, oregano, pepper, garlic powder, and allspice.

Gently loosen the skin from the meat.  

Smear the mixture all over the chicken and under the skin.

Lay chicken, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet (or plate) and refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. If the chicken isn’t on a rimmed baking sheet, transfer it to one. Roast chicken until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pricked with a fork (an instant-read thermometer plunged into the thickest part of the breast will read 150), about an hour, depending on the size of the chicken.

Remove from oven, cover bird with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with roasted vegetables and a green salad.

Option: toss chunks of onion, potato, sweet potato, bell peppers, or any other vegetables with olive oil and add around the edges of the chicken.

Apologies for the glass plate on a patterned tablecloth!

Readers: how do you like your chicken prepared?

My most recent release is Batter Off Dead, Country Store Mystery #10, out now!

My next release is Murder in a Cape Cottage, the fourth Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery.

We hope you'll visit Maddie and her Agatha Award-winning alter ego Edith Maxwell on our web site, sign up for our monthly newsletter, visit us on social media, and check our all our books and short stories.

Maddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell) is a talented amateur chef and holds a PhD in Linguistics from Indiana University. An Agatha Award-winning and bestselling author, she is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and also writes award-winning short crime fiction. She lives with her beau north of Boston, where she’s currently working on her next mystery when she isn’t cooking up something delectable in the kitchen.



  1. Your recipe for Roasted Spatchcock Chicken sounds oh so yummy. We cook one similar in ingredients, but cook it on our big green egg. I agree with you on how juicy it is and also love the skin.

    We also enjoy BBQ chicken cooked on the grill. Honestly, I don't think there's a way we don't like chicken. It's a very versatile meat.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  2. I love either a roasted or fried chicken.
    Kitten143 (at) Verizon (dot) net

  3. This recipe sounds delicious! I love chicken in many preparations, it's my favorite meat.

  4. Our go-to chicken is super easy - bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, brushed with any of Newman's Own oil based salad dressing, Lemon Basil is a favorite, and roast on a slotted broiler pan at 400-425 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. Super crispy skin and moist meat

    1. Sounds great, Anita. Thighs are so much tastier!

  5. It's a type of grill
    I get meats shipped to me by Butcher Box. Great quality stuff and really convenient.
    One shipment included a spatchcock chicken. I'd never cooked one before.
    Your seasoning sounds good and leaving the chicken uncovered for that amount of time can help insure a nice, crisp skin.