Lemon Pepper Spatchcock Chicken
Roast chicken is one of the first things I tell budding home cooks to get comfortable with. It isn’t as hard as it may seem to make a really delicious one, but roasting a chicken can take 60-75 minutes which can be a bit of a stretch. It can also tough to cook the chicken evenly without drying out parts of it.
Enter the spatchcock chicken! The idea with this is that by flattening the chicken, it will roast faster and also cook more evenly. One caveat: You have to flatten a chicken! So, there is a bit more work on the front end of this recipe, but you can do that part in advance and it trims probably around 30 minutes off the roasting time.
If you get comfortable with this method, you can do this all on the grill as well for a fun early grilling season option, but the oven is much easier to control and if it’s your first spatchcock chicken, I’d recommend starting there!
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place a sturdy cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat as well.
- To prep the chicken, use kitchen shears to remove the backbone out of a whole roaster chicken. Rub the chicken with olive oil and season the chicken well with lemon pepper and kosher salt. You can prep the chicken up to 24 hours in advance up to this point.
- When ready to roast, slice a lemon and lay the slices in the middle of a baking dish. Place the chicken in the dish, skin-side up.
- Prep the veggies by halving the potatoes and cutting the carrots into about 1-inch pieces. Then toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Pour the veggies around the edges of the spatchcocked chicken.
- Add a piece of clean foil to the top of the chicken and place the hot cast iron skillet on top of the foil to press the chicken down and apply direct heat to the top. Be careful!
- Move the entire baking dish with the cast iron skillet to the oven. Roast for 15 minutes.
- Remove the cast iron skillet and foil from the chicken. Add fresh thyme to the dish (optional). Return to oven and roast for another 30 minutes.
- Chicken should be cooked through at this point but you should always check it with a meat thermometer to ensure it’s a safe temperature. The chicken should be 165-170 degrees F. in the thickest part of the thigh and breast.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, let it rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving!
Okay, let’s get the nitty-gritty part out of the way. The only true way to spatchcock a chicken is to take some kitchen shears and cut out the backbone of the chicken. Then it will lay flat. You can save the backbone in the freezer for chicken stock!
Once your chicken is flattened, rub it with some olive oil and season it liberally with lemon pepper and kosher salt. You want a pretty even layer over the entire chicken.
I’d recommend prepping the chicken up to this point in advance if possible. The chicken will be seasoned better if it sits like this overnight. Plus, it will make your cooking time easier if it’s done in advance!
You could just roast the chicken like this, but I recommend mixing up some hearty veggies to roast while the chicken is roasting. Might as well round out the meal!
I added some garlic cloves to the veggies but found they didn’t add much so left them out from the actual recipe.
For the cooking part, I’d recommend pressing the chicken so it gets some nice browning on the chicken skin. This isn’t a totally necessary step, but does help. As your oven preheats, also preheat a sturdy cast iron skillet in the oven. Then add a layer of foil to the chicken and add the cast iron skillet on top!
Stick this in a 400 degree F. oven for 15 minutes and then you can remove the cast iron skillet and the foil. This basically just encourages browning on the chicken since it’s roasting for a shorter time period.
Once the skillet is off, the chicken will probably need another 30 minutes of roasting time to finish up. Ultimately, use a meat thermometer to make sure it reaches a safe temperature of 165 degrees F. in the thickest part of the thigh and breast.
Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving!