Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chicken Surgery

I've been reading a lot of cookbooks again recently, especially Nigella Lawson's, and one of the items that caught my eye was 'Spatchcocked Chicken'.

To spatchcock a chicken basically involves some good kitchen shears and some wrestling. Nigella describes what you have to do in one sentence, but that one sentence doesn't even hint at the carnage you will witness when you attempt this for yourself.

Place the chicken breast side down on a cutting board and cut along each side of the backbone.

You can then totally remove the backbone and discard it.

It's at this point that you begin to see the gruesome reality of the inside of a chicken's cavity. Nigella says to just flip the chicken over and flatten it with the heel of your hand, but after doing research online, and actually finding a video on how to Spatchcock on youtube(!!!), I followed their advice and added an extra step by removing the sternum (or keel bone/breastbone as it's sometimes called.)

Pretty horrific isn't it. I felt like Halloween had come to the house earlier than usual this year. There's no need to go to a haunted house, just watch Peter mutilate poultry!

The sternum is the white phallic bone right in the middle of the chicken. You basically slide your fingers along each side of it to separate it from the meat - not a pleasant sensation, and then pull!

And here is the fully spatchcocked chicken. It can be easily cooked on the grill like this, or it can be roasted in the oven in about 45 minutes! I put it to bed in a ziplock bag with some lemon juice, olive oil, onion and rosemary. I'll let you know how it tastes.

And for those of you who are really curious here is the Youtube video - it's entitled 'How to Butterfly a Chicken' - which is what I've done, it's just that 'Spatchcock' is the old English term for the technique and is fun word to drop into conversation to see how people react!



Network Geek said...

Yeah, the funny thing is, it sounds both more refined and, somehow, more perverted when you say it in your English accent.

Oh, and I think I'm going to be cleaning my house and the Fordham Thanksgiving is moving here. Pray for me.

Bill Shirley said...

the sternum is the breast bone

(I assume everyone knows that, but you didn't mention it, so I thought I would.)


Deidra said...

ok that was just gross mr. peter thank you for showing us your butchering skills. i think i will stick to boneless skinless:)

Pete the Brit said...

Thanks Bill. I amended the post to make it clearer :)

oh deidra - there is so much more taste in a full chicken than in boneless skinless :)