I've always been a bit scared of spatchcocking, there's something rather violent about the way the word sounds. It makes me think of kneecapping, or knuckledusting. This Saturday though, I steeled my nerves and set about my chicken with new abandon. And I was relieved to find it wasn't even that difficult.
To spatchcock, if you're not familiar with the term, is to remove the backbone of the chicken and to flatten it out. It makes cooking much quicker - the bird that I used cooked in 50 minutes rather than an hour and 20 - and it makes the chicken much easier to handle if you're cooking it on the BBQ.
All you need is a chicken and a pair of kitchen scissors.
1. Put the chicken onto a board breast side down, with the head end towards you.
2. Find the backbone and cut alongside it all the way to the end. You will crunch through the ribs as you do this, but an ordinary pair of kitchen scissors should do the job.
3. Do the same on the other side of the backbone, so the whole backbone is removed. You can keep this and use it for making stock.
4. Turn the chicken over, open it up and press down on it to flatten it out. The idea is that the chicken is a fairly uniform thickeness all over.
Your chicken is now well and truly spatchcocked. I stuffed some ricotta, lemon zest and chives under the skin, drizzled with olive oil and cooked it in the oven for 50 minutes until the juices ran clear. Delicious!