Spatchcocked Poultry

As I mentioned in my last post, spatchcocking refers to the removing of the backbone from poultry (in this case, Cornish Game Hens) so that it can be split for roasting or grilling.

I’ve only spatchcocked a couple of times, and it is a bit intimidating at first.  But to help me relax, I like to imagine Nigella Lawson whispering in my ear with her sweet British accent: “Would you like to spatchcock some birds with me, Darling?”  Ahem. Uh, on to the spatchcocking demo:

1. Place the bird, breast side down, on a work surface.
2. With a pair of kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone, starting at the tail, and remove backbone.  Don’t throw that backbone away.  Put it in a zip-top bag and freeze so you can use it later for making stock.




3. After the backbone is removed, open the bird up so it lays flat like a book.  Using a sharp knife, cut through the membrane on both sides of the keel bone (the cartilage located at the center of the bird), but do not pierce the meat or cut through the bird.



4. Run your fingers under the keel bone, loosen, and lever it out.  Removing the keel bone will take some effort.  You can leave it in, but removing it now allows for faster cooking, and easier eating later.



5. Pull the skin taut at the bottom of the bird and make about an inch-long incision through the skin. Repeat on the other side.


6. Flip the bird over, skin side up. Pull the legs through the slits you have just made.



7. After pulling the legs through the slits, lay your bird flat.  Your bird is now spatchcocked and ready for a marinade, a rub, or for flinging like a floppy fowl frisbee.



  • stef March 31, 2007, 6:24 am

    hi! just discovered your blog through karen’s (pilgrim’s pot and pans) — loving it already! my favorite spatchcocked poultry dish is mustard-breaded:D

  • Burnt Lumpia April 1, 2007, 7:27 pm

    Thanks Stef, I’m glad you are enjoying my ramblings. Hopefully I can stay coherent enough and keep you coming back to my blog.


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