Spatchcock Herb Orange Chicken is a funny name for an unbelievably delicious entree. (Go ahead and giggle. I giggled myself the first time I heard the term “spatchcock.”) Basically, it means to open up the chicken so that it cooks flat, which also makes it cook faster.
Whole chickens are much less expensive than buying chicken parts. As an added bonus, you get the best of both worlds with light and dark meats. The flavors of the fresh rosemary, thyme, and orange permeate up into the flesh of the chicken. The compound herb butter under the skin helps keep the white breast meat from drying out.
If you need visual help in addition to my written directions below, check out how to spatchcock a chicken, which includes step-by-step photos.
The recipe goes together fast, then into the oven and forget about it. Use this method with any type of poultry. Cooking time will vary with the size of the bird.
Spatchcock Herb Orange Chicken Recipe
1 ounce (about) fresh rosemary sprigs, divided use
1 ounce (about) fresh thyme sprigs, divided use
2 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 to 2 large navel oranges
One 4 to 6-pound whole chicken
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and sweet Hungarian paprika.
Finely chop 1 teaspoon each of the rosemary and thyme. Using a fork, blend into the softened butter. This is the compound butter. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a jellyroll pan with aluminum foil.
Cut orange(s) into very thin slices and space out over the bottom of the prepared pan. Evenly distribute the remaining rosemary and thyme sprigs on top of the orange slices.
Remove any giblets from the cavity of the bird and reserve for other uses (or discard). Rinse the chicken inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels.
Spatchcock the chicken:
To spatchcock the chicken, the backbone is removed so the whole chicken can be opened up to lie flat. This is easily done using a pair of poultry shears. Using the shears, cut down the left side, close to the backbone, from the neck to the rear. Then do the same down the right side of the backbone. Save/freeze the backbone for use in soups or broths.
Open the chicken and salt the inside. Turn it over, skin-side up, and place it flat on the prepared pan on top of the layered oranges and herbs.
Separate the skin from the meat on both sides of the breast so you have a pocket. Push half of the compound butter under the skin on each side of the breast. Massage the skin from the outside to spread the butter evenly over the breast.
Season the outside of the chicken liberally with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and paprika (or use your favorite spice blend).
Place in preheated oven on middle rack and bake for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours, depending upon the size of your poultry. Small fryers may only need an hour. Test with an instant-read thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, not touching any bone. It should read 165F.
Let the finished chicken rest for at least 10 minutes to allow its juices to redistribute before cutting to serve.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Spatchcock Herb Orange Chicken Recipe Photo ©2019 Peggy Filippone