Spatchcock chicken is returning to the limelight, and why not? It’s easy and takes less time to cook than roasting the bird whole. A compound tarragon garlic butter forms the basis of the flavoring. Tarragon is an herb that imparts a gentle licorice flavor, and it pairs perfectly with chicken. (Don’t turn up your nose, you licorice-haters! I do not care for licorice, but tarragon is absolutely fabulous with chicken.)
But first, you might ask: What does spatchcock mean? (I know, it almost sounds naughty! 🙂 ) Spatchcocking is the process of cutting out the chicken’s backbone so that it can lie flat to cook. Yes, it’s that simple. Spatchcocking allows the bird to cook faster because the interior is exposed to the heat as well as the exterior. Don’t hesitate to show off your knowledge of this process because, after all, it’s just so fun to say, “spatchcock.”
I’ve used whole, fresh carrots to create a natural roasting rack for the chicken to rest upon. The tarragon sprigs and juices from the chicken will flavor the cooked sweet carrots, and you have one less vegetable to make. You can also tuck some baby red potatoes in between the carrots to make a complete meal in one pan, if you wish.
Seriously, this recipe is no-brainer easy, but I’ve included photos of the steps below the main recipe below to give you a visual. Now get to it! Trust me, this will become one of your go-to recipes.
Spatchcock Chicken Tarragon Recipe
1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
1 ounce fresh tarragon sprigs, divided use
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 pound fresh carrots, peeled
1 teaspoon salt (about)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (about)
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika (about)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
The first step is to spatchcock the chicken. Remove any giblets and discard or freeze for other uses. (Giblets are great for stocks and/or soups.) Place the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board. Cut along the backbone on either side, from the neck cavity to the tail. Freeze or discard the backbone. Turn the chicken over and press down to break the breastbone so the chicken lies flat with the legs pointing outward and the breast in the center. Set aside.
Remove the leaves from 2 or 3 of the tarragon sprigs and roughly chop. Mix the chopped tarragon and pressed garlic into the softened butter.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a shallow roasting pan with non-stick foil. Place the carrots in a line across the bottom of the roasting pan to form a natural rack for the spatchcocked chicken. Top the carrots with the remaining whole tarragon sprigs.
Gently loosen the skin of the chicken with your fingers, taking care not to tear it. Spread half of the tarragon garlic butter under the skin, over the breast meat and down the thighs. Massage the rest of the tarragon butter over the top of chicken skin. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, onion powder, sweet paprika, and pepper. (I’ve indicated approximate amounts of these spices above, but I don’t really measure. Just sprinkle generously to cover.)
Position the chicken on top of the carrots and tarragon, skin-side up. Roast for about 1 hour, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 F. when inserted into the thickest part of the meat (not touching bone).
Let sit for 10 minutes for juices to re-distribute before cutting into portions. Serve with the carrots.
Suggested sides: Orzo Rice Pilaf Recipe and/or a green vegetable, such as peas, green beans, broccoli, asparagus, etc.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
• Here’s a cool chef’s tip: To get that beautiful, rich golden color to the skin without overcooking the chicken, give the skin a rubdown with about 1/4 teaspoon of browning agent such as Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet. It won’t affect the flavor, and the bird comes out picture-perfect.