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Why Spatchcock?

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I see tons of spatchcock chicken cooks posted online almost daily.  They are usually followed by comments along the lines of 'best chicken ever' or 'this will be my new go-to method'.  People seem to be in love with the spatchcock cooking technique.

The most common reason I see posted for use of this technique is that the chicken cooks more evenly.  I'm not so sure that's true.

I have cooked at least 100 whole chickens since I got into this hobby and I bet only 5 or 6 of them have been spatchcocked.  I prefer cooking chicken two different ways and neither of them is spatchcock.  I like to cook them whole or I like to break them down into individual pieces.  

I serve chicken on the dinner table two different ways:

  • Meat is pulled/sliced and off the bone
  • Chicken is broken down into two breasts, two wings, two thighs, and two legs on the bone

In my opinion, spatchcocking the bird doesn't make a lot of sense because my whole chickens always cook evenly.  I cook them breast side down over indirect heat usually.  Sometimes I cook them over direct heat and turn the birds regularly during the cook, but normally I cook at 400-450 over indirect heat until the breast reaches 155-158 degrees.  The legs and thighs usually get to 175-180 during this time, which is ok for that meat.  It remains moist and tender because of its higher fat content.  If I am going to break down the bird and serve it in pieces on the bone, it makes more sense to break it down before the cook and cook each piece until its properly done.  That also allows for nice crisping/browning all over the meat.  

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John, I agree with you.

The best reason I can see for spatching a bird is to put the dark meat closer to the heat on an uneven fire. 


These days i jau rub spices under the skin. Then right onto the grill to roast 

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Prior to kamado cooking I did quite a bit of beer can and spatchcock chicken primarily because those methods maintained moisture better. But now with a kamado that is not issue no matter how I do it. My primary way now is whole chicken on the Jotisserie or cut up and grilled over indirect heat. I will occasionally still do a beer can chicken or chicken al mattone for the presentation or ooh factor.

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No eye deer (a deer with no good eyes).

I tried it too, because I've seen all the posts here, but didn't really notice any difference between whole, or spatchcocked.  Seems like just more work upfront, rather than just pulling it apart at the end.   Thanks for bringing up the issue, I'm so new at this, I had no knowledge why, other than everyone else is doing it.   the peer pressure is intense!!  :)

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6 hours ago, rwhinton said:

Why not cut chicken in two along backbone and keelbone? It's flat, easily maneuvered on an uneven fire and, overall, a whole lot easier to deal with.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Absolutely.  A half bird is much easier to maneuver. Normally,  I cook half the bird and freeze the other half.  I try to get pretty small birds, eat the leg quarter for dinner, and have breast meat for lunches at work for a couple days.

I don't think it is any better or worse than doing pieces or a whole bird.  It yields consistently good results without much effort.

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