Make It Tonight: Flattened Chicken

June 2, 2021

Who doesn’t love roast chicken? Juicy, comforting and tasty, it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser whether for a family meal or a dinner party (whenever we get back to having those!). While roasting a whole bird in the oven is a tried and true way to enjoy chicken, this week we’re looking at a different way to prepare a whole bird: spatchcock style.

If you’ve never heard of this cooking method, it’s a fast, convenient and tasty alternative way to prepare the bird.  While you can easily purchase a whole chicken and flatten or spatchcock it yourself, you can also look in the Co-op meat department for ready-to roast spatchcock chicken too—a real time saver!

What is a spatchcock chicken?

Spatchcocking, also known as butterflying or flattening, is a way to cook a whole bird that involves removing the backbone so the bird lays flat.

Although the spatchcock method is most commonly used on chickens, it can be used for any kind of poultry, from a tiny quail to an enormous turkey. In fact, although spatchcocking is an old method of preparing poultry, it came back into fashion in 2002 thanks to New York Times food writer Mark Bittman’s legendary “45-minute roast turkey” recipe, in which he spatchcocks the bird in order to reduce the cooking time.

How does spatchcocking work?

While a whole roast chicken can take an hour or more to fully cook, spatchcocking increases the horizontal surface area, meaning it can cook faster, more evenly and at a higher temperature without burning the skin.

Because the white and the dark meat have different optimum cooking temperatures and with the normal roasting method, it’s tricky to get the thighs nice and juicy without drying out the breast. A spatchcocked bird is laid out flat and this means that the legs, which are normally protected under the chicken, are exposed to much more heat and therefore cook faster.

The other advantage of spatchcocking? This method means all the chicken skin is exposed to the oven’s full heat simultaneously. This has the double bonus of making the skin nicely crispy and ensuring that the meat is properly and evenly basted.

History of the spatchcock method

The word ‘spatchcock’ is thought to come from an old Irish expression ‘dispatching the cock’ meaning to kill a chicken. The method was noted in Captain Francis Grose’s 1785 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue: “Spatch cock, abbreviation of a dispatch cock, an Irish dish upon any sudden occasion. It is a hen just killed from the roost, or yard, and immediately skinned, split, and broiled.”

How to spatchcock a chicken

Although it may seem a little daunting, spatchcocking couldn’t be simpler; all you need is a good pair of kitchen shears or a sharp knife and some courage. Pat the bird dry with paper towel and then place it breast-down with the legs towards you on a chopping board. Grip the far end of the chicken firmly with one hand and use the other to cut along one side of the backbone with the shears, starting at the tail. Cut through the ribs as you go and repeat on the other side.

Next, open the bird out with your hands and turn it over onto its back. Place the heel of your hand over the breastbone and push down firmly so that the chicken is splayed out and meat is all at the same height. Then simply season with your favourite spices, cover it in plenty of butter or brush with oil, and either roast in the oven (for about 40 minutes for a regular chicken) or on the grill for about 20 minutes each side.

…or save the work and head to Co-op!

If you don’t feel like fiddling about with the chicken yourself, you can buy already butterflied and marinated chickens at Co-op. Just ask in the meat department for a spatchcock chicken.

Tuscan BBQ Flattened Chicken with Grilled Vegetables


Wk31 Flattened Chicken blog1 Lemon Herb Flattened Chicken
2 tsp + 2 tsp Founders & Farmers
Founders & Farmers Italian seasoning
3 tbsp + ½ cup Founders and Farmers olive oil
4-5 sprigs rosemary
2 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
3 portobello mushrooms, gilled and de-stemmed
2 medium zucchinis, halved
1 tsp + 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper


Preheat grill on high.

Toss chicken with 3 tbsp oil, 2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp garlic, salt and pepper.

Toss the peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini with ½ cup oil, 2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 tbsp garlic, balsamic, salt and pepper.

Turn grill to medium high and place chicken skin side down for about 5 minutes until skin is golden brown and releases from the grill. Now place the rosemary sprigs on the grill and put the bone side of the chicken on top of the rosemary so the skin side is up. If available, use a BBQ cooking mat so the rosemary doesn’t burn. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until thigh reaches 165°F.

While chicken is cooking, place the vegetables onto the grill and cook until tender, about 4 minutes per side.

Remove the chicken and vegetables from the grill and enjoy!

Three Make It Tonight recipes for Flattened Chicken

Fast MIT

Sriracha Garlic Roasted Flattened Chicken with Cucumber Salad

Fancy MIT

Tuscan BBQ Flattened Chicken with Grilled Vegetables

Family MIT

Grilled Flattened Chicken with Cal & Gary's Apple & Hickory Smoked BBQ Sauce with Grilled Corn



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