A bed of sturdy rhubarb breaks down as the chicken roasts, mingling with its sticky juices in much the same way a halved lemon might. The difference is you can actually eat the rhubarb afterward, or mash it into a sticky paste in the bottom of the pan to serve overtop. To spatchcock a chicken is to butterfly it, cutting out its spine and opening it like a book. This allows a whole bird to cook more quickly and evenly.
Spatchcocking (or butterflying) a chicken is far easier than it sounds – especially if you have kitchen shears. Starting at the cavity end, cut along one side of the spine, then the other, and pull it out. (Don’t worry about being neat or delicate! Just hack away!) Flip the bird over on a cutting board and push it flat, arranging the legs however they go so that they are flattened as well. At this point you could do whatever you want to the bird to roast it, marinate it or cook it on the grill – cut back the cooking time by about a third.
Roasted Spatchcocked Chicken with Rhubarb
1 whole chicken
canola or olive oil, for cooking
salt and pepper
4-6 rhubarb stalks
1 purple onion, halved and thinly sliced (optional)
3-4 garlic cloves
a couple sprigs of rosemary and/or thyme
a few thin-skinned potatoes, diced (optional)
To spatchcock a chicken, turn it breast-side down on a cutting board. Using sharp kitchen shears and starting at the cavity end, cut along one side of the spine, then the other side, and remove it. (It can be used to make stock, if you like.)
Open the bird like a book, flip it over and flatten it, pressing down on the breast and turning the legs so that they lie flat as well. Pat the skin dry with paper towel, rub it all over with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cut the rhubarb stalks in half or thirds, crosswise, and set in the bottom of your roasting pan or a large cast iron skillet. Top with onions. Set the chicken cut side down on top of the rhubarb and onions, then scatter garlic around the sides. Add a couple sprigs of rosemary or thyme, or both. If you like, add potatoes to the pan, filling the space around the bird.
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350˚F and cook for 20 minutes longer, or until the juices run clear and joints wiggle easily. Remove the bird to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes; meanwhile remove as much fat as possible from the pan and mash the rhubarb and garlic with the back of a fork. If you like, add a splash of stock or white wine to the pan to loosen any browned bits. Serve the chicken with the saucy rhubarb and onions.
Can’t get enough? Try Babble’s 10 Easy Chicken Recipes!