Kitchen Tips

Flat-out Flavour: How to Butterfly a Chicken

Fancy a roast chicken but want to cut down the cooking time? Or how about throwing that bird on the barbecue and making sure it cooks evenly? Take a cue from chefs around the world and learn how to butterfly, or spatchcock, poultry.

1. Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towel.
2. Place the whole chicken, breast-side down, on a clean work surface.
3. Using a pair of kitchen scissors or shears, cut down the length of the chicken along one side of the backbone and through the ribs.
4. Repeat on the other side of the backbone, then remove and discard the backbone completely. (Pro tip: save the backbone to make chicken stock.)
5. Open the chicken out like a book, then turn it over so the breast-side is facing up. Using the heels of your hands, press down firmly on the breast to flatten the bird. Your chicken is now ready to marinate or roast.By cutting the chicken in half and flattening it, you’re ensuring that the maximum surface area is in contact with the heat, resulting in faster, more even cooking, plus extra flavour. In fact, a butterflied chicken will cook in about half the time of a whole chicken.

In Thailand, butterflying is a must-do technique when making gai yang, the barbecued chicken that’s ubiquitous in the Isaan province in the northeast.
Here, the flattened birds are wedge onto large bamboo skewers, then grilled and turned over open flames.

Country Style Barbecue Chicken

Try this country-style barbecued chicken recipe, then team it with homemade chilli sauce, sticky rice and som tam (green papaya salad).
Once you’ve mastered the art of butterflying poultry, test out your new skills on this zesty pad Thai barbecued chicken, flavoured with lime, chilli and fish sauce.

Pad-Thai-BBQ-Butterfly-Chicken

For more kitchen tips, learn how to clean and cook a whole fish, and read our guide to cutting vegetables.

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